No. 6 Stanford Tops Santa Clara

Feb. 5, 2008

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - The Santa Clara women's basketball team lost a hard-fought 96-74 battle to No. 6/6 Stanford Tuesday night at the Leavey Center. With the loss, the Broncos return to West Coast Conference action with a 16-6 overall record, while the Cardinal improved to 20-3 on the season.

"Tonight it was a character check for our basketball team," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "In such a short turnaround from hearing about Chandice's situation, our team stuck together and they fought and they played to the very end. That is what I am most proud about. I was confident going into the game and I knew their attitudes would be positive and the fact that they did what they did for 40 minutes says a lot about our team."

Despite the loss, senior Walker and sophomore Maggie Goldenberger compiled career-best scoring performances. Walker tallied a game-high 23 points, while Goldenberger registered nine points in place of injured leading-scorer Chandice Cronk, scoring seven straight points for Santa Clara early in the game before getting into foul trouble. The run also included Goldenberger's first career three-point goal, which tied the contest for the Broncos, 8-8, in the early minutes of the first half.

"Stanford is the No. 6 team and we had nothing to lose," Tracey Walker said. "I might as well give it my all from the beginning to the end. That's what I tried to do."

Santa Clara lost Cronk, the fourth-leading scorer in the WCC at 17.1 points per game, to a career-ending knee injury Saturday during an 88-52 loss at Gonzaga.

"Obviously it was tough the last 24 hours," Bento-Jackson said. "We got the news last night after practice. Our hearts go out to Chandice."

The senior guard tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee and sustained a leg fracture when she went up for a layin and her leg buckled. She was using crutches and will have surgery sometime next week.

JJ Hones hit five of her team's season-best 13 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 20 points. Candice Wiggins added 20 points with three 3s in 21 minutes on the heels of her fourth Pac-10 Player of the Week honor and second in a row for the Cardinal.

The Cardinal, who were coming off a weekend sweep of USC and UCLA to avenge their lone two Pac-10 losses, shot 13-for-26 from long range and led by as many as 26. That allowed Tara VanDerveer to rest her regulars for much of the second half -- but not as much as she would have liked.

"We saw it as an opportunity and a big challenge because we knew they're an excellent 3-point shooting team," Wiggins said. "We were a little disappointed in our defense at times."

The Cardinal started the game 15-for-18 but allowed the Broncos to get regular open looks from the perimeter -- and Santa Clara knocked down three of its first five 3-point tries. SCU kept the score tight during the first seven minutes of the game, before Stanford posted an eight-point run to make the score 30-19. Wiggins started a 17-2 run with a three-point play at the 10:23 mark of the first half and Hones had two 3s during the spurt. Her fourth 3 of the game at 6:26 gave the Cardinal a 45-23 lead and Stanford held a 56-38 advantage at the break on 69-percent shooting.

A jumper from Goldenberger in the opening minutes of the second half cut the Cardinal's lead to 16-points, 56-40. However, Stanford continued to widen the cap and held its largest lead of the game, 26-points, three times. Yet, with 4:45 left to play, the Broncos a 9-0 run on points from Jen Gottschalk, Sara Majors and Walker. The rally brought Santa Clara within 14-points, 87-73, with 2:55 remaining.

Gottschalk added 14 point and five rebounds for Santa Clara, while Majors had 10 points, five boards and four assists. Claire Goins chipped in with an 11-point performance.

The Broncos open the second half of WCC play on Saturday, Feb. 9 against the Gaels of Saint Mary's. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga.