GREELEY, Colo. – Santa Clara University rallied from a 14-point deficit by playing inspired basketball following the halftime intermission and nearly knocked-off the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley on Wednesday.
Northern Colorado (2-1) received 16 points from freshman guard D'shara Strange and made the needed free throws in the closing moments to hold on for the win, 65-57.
Santa Clara (0-2) – who trailed by as many as 14 in the first half - made 9-of-12 shots immediately after the break to get back into the game, tying it at 43 with 12 minutes left.
Alyssa Shoji scored 16 points, 12 from beyond the arc while Lena Gipson and Lindsay Leo combined to score 25 points in the paint.
UNC established leads of 11-6 and 19-11 in the first half, benefiting from poor shooting in the early going from a Santa Clara team that made just two of their first 10 attempts. SCU shot 25 percent from the floor in the opening period.
Consecutive 3s from Shoji and Ricki Radanovich pulled the Broncos within four, 21-17, with 4 minutes remaining in the half.
UNC answered with a 10-0 run, fueled by a triple from Kaisha Brown and an old fashioned three-point play from Strange. The Bears took a 33-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Brown finished with 16 points for UNC and Courtney Stoermer added 12.
Santa Clara responded in a big way to open the second half, playing well on both ends of the floor. Gipson's second basket of the half with 15:03 on the clock capped off a 12-4 Bronco run to open the period.
Shoji buried a 20-foot three-pointer to cut the UNC lead down to one possession and Leo tied it at 43 moments later with a basket and free throw at the 12:05 mark.
With 8:09 remaining UNC regained command, taking a 53-45 lead on a driving basket by Lauren Oosdyke.
SCU had trouble closing the gap, getting as close as five at 55-50 and 57-52 around the five-minute mark following points from Radanovich and Shoji. The Broncos again pulled within five with one minute remaining and a Shoji 3 made it 63-57 with 30 seconds left.
NOTES: It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools … Santa Clara used the same starting lineup as Friday (Shoji-Anderson-Fulps-Leo- Gipson) … UNC transitioned to Division I beginning in 2006-07 … UNC was 8-5 at home last season … the game was streamed live on BigSkyTV.com … fans can watch Friday's game at Colorado for a small fee or listen for free via CUBuffs.com.