Santa Clara Rebounds For Big Win Over Fresno State

Dec. 9, 2006

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Following a pair of tough losses last week, the Santa Clara women's basketball team got back on the winning track Saturday night with a hard-earned 80-73 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs at the Leavey Center. Five Broncos scored in double figures and the team outrebounded Fresno State to complete the team effort.

The Broncos will remain home for a contest this Tuesday night, Dec. 12, hosting the Pacific Tigers at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by clicking here.

Chandice Cronk matched her career-high with 25 points, and also led the team with a season-high eight rebounds. Tracey Walker had 12 points and six rebounds while Ashley Graham added 10 points and eight assists to bolster the backcourt scoring, and underneath, Jen Gottschalk put in 12 points and grabbed seven boards while Ashley Gonnerman scored 10 to round out the Broncos scoring in double-figures.

"The offensive balance is huge for us. Obviously Chandice and Ashley provide a lot on the perimeter and teams are going to focus a lot on that," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "That makes it necessary for us to get contribution from the inside, and we have been getting that."

Bento-Jackson, a 1992 graduate of Fresno State and former women's basketball and softball standout for the Bulldogs, also earned her first win against her alma mater in six tries.

"I have a special place in my heart for Fresno State, but when we play them, it's probably the one night out of the year that I don't want them to win," Bento-Jackson said with a smile afterwards.

The teams started out slowly Saturday night, struggling to a 9-9 deadlock through the first seven minutes of the game. But Cronk's first of five three-pointers on the night moments later kicked off a 14-4 SCU run that gave them a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the night.

Walker's defense also played a role in the pivotal run that carried SCU in the first half. The junior guard made three of her four steals in the final 13 minutes of the half, and her steal and fast-break layup with 3:11 to go in the half gave the Broncos a 10-point lead at 35-25. Her two free throws minutes later capped the scoring for both teams in the first 20 minutes as SCU went into the break holding a 40-31 lead.

"Its tremendous to have this kind of balance, because we're not relying on just one person to do the scoring every night," Walker said of the team's offensive balance. "It shows how much of a team we are, and how we are unselfish and willing to pass the ball around."

The Broncos continued to ride their momentum as the second half got underway, as Kasey Monteith, who scored eight points and grabbed five boards, put in a layup and dropped in a pair of free throws that sandwiched a Cronk three to stretch the SCU lead to 14 at 47-33 in the first two minutes.

Another three from Cronk and a jumper from Gottschalk swelled the lead to 19 at 62-43 with 11:19 to play, marking the Broncos' largest lead of the night.

But the Bulldogs did not give up, going to a full-court press and creating key turnovers that allowed them to chip away at the deficit. Kendra Walker-Roche, who went a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc and scored 17 points for the Bulldogs, hit a three to cut the led to 11 with 6:04 to play. Tierre Wilson, who led Fresno State with 26 points on the night, added a couple of jumpers as the Bulldogs were able to cut the Bronco lead to six twice in the final minutes, but could not make that final push.

Santa Clara calmed down, beat the press, and put the game away from the free throw line, making 9-of-12 from the line in the final 1:20 to seal the win.