Feb. 11, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A flurry of LMU points with just over six minutes left allowed the Lions to stave off an upset-minded Santa Clara team and win at home, 73-61 Thursday night at Gersten Pavilion.
Santa Clara (3-22; 1-9 WCC) stormed back from a 13-point halftime deficit and cut the LMU lead to one before the Lions responded with a decisive 16-5 run.
LMU (10-13; 3-6 WCC) snapped a five-game losing streak. Alex Cowling was outstanding on the offensive end for the Lions. Cowling scored five unanswered points with just over six minutes left to keep LMU in front down the stretch.
Cowling finished with a game-high with 25 points, making 8 of 11 shots and all eight of her free throw attempts.
The Lions pressured Santa Clara from the opening tip, applying a full-court press but the game stayed close after the first nine minutes.
The Broncos received six first-half rebounds from Gipson, before a second foul forced her to sit out the final seven minutes of the half. In the meantime LMU forced a series of turnovers using the press, and took a 20-13 lead.
"It didn't really allow us to get into a flow offensively," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain about LMU's press in the first half. "For whatever reason we didn't handle it well early on. I thought we played a bit tentative and made some crucial mistakes at crucial times."
Renahy Young stretched the LMU lead to twelve, 28-16, after an uncontested layup generated by an open court steal. The Lions had nine steals in the opening 20 minutes and led 32-19 at halftime.
Immediately after halftime Meagan Fulps dropped-in a reverse layup, then nailed a baseline 3, part of a 12-2 SCU run to open the second half.
A huge part of the run was the play of Gipson, who returned to the floor after the first-half foul trouble to take control of the game in the paint. Two of Gipson's 12 second-half points got SCU within a basket.
A transition 3 by Rhianna Faithfull made it a one-point game, 37-36, with 12:58 left.
"Confidence," said Mountain when asked about her team's play in the second half. "They came out played hard, got stops defensively, handled the press. We settled in, something we needed to do in the beginning of the game."
With LMU trying to hold on to a slim 46-43 lead with 8:27 remaining, Young was whistled for a technical foul and after a pair of Shoji free-throws the Broncos trailed by just one.
Shoji played 38 minutes, made four 3s and was charged with navigating the Broncos through LMU's full-court press.
Cowlings provided just enough offense LMU would need to cling to a slim lead. Lisa Helmers then made an improbable three-pointer - banking-in a long range attempt from the left wing to transform a close affair into a 60-50 game with 5:14 left.
"They hit three 3s on us in a matter of a minute and a half," said Mountain. "That shut us down. But the bottom line is, you can't play one half on the road and expect to win against anyone in our conference."
Pepperdine is next for the Broncos, a Saturday afternoon game scheduled to tip at 2 p.m. in Malibu.