BOULDER, Colo. – Santa Clara University played well but could not overcome a slow start, dropping a 71-57 decision to the University of Colorado at the Coors Event Center on Friday.
Colorado (2-1) jumped out to a commanding 18-2 lead but needed a 14-7 surge to begin the second half to initiate their seven-game homestand with a victory. Brittany Wilson scored a game-high 18 points to lead four Buffs in double-figures.
Santa Clara (0-3) had closed the gap to seven in the early stages of the second half. Alyssa Shoji scored a team-high 15 points for SCU, making all three of her 3s following the break. Kathy Willinsky kept the Broncos close by scoring 11 of her 14 points in the first half.
"We shot 4 for 19 from the 3-point line, and that is one of our strengths," said Santa Clara head Coach Jennifer Mountain. "If we are not shooting the ball well we are going to struggle. We fought back, that's not our issue. This is a team that is always going to play hard and never give up. Missed opportunities and missed layups are things that you can't afford to do and be in ball games."
Santa Clara made just 1 of their first 10 shots, allowing CU to go up 7-0, then 18-2. Wilson connected on two early 3s for the Buffs and CU held the rebounding advantage, 23-15, in the opening 20 minutes.
"We came out slow shooting. If we knocked down a couple shots and a few layups it would have changed the flow in the beginning of the game," said Mountain.
But the Broncos went on a 9-2 run midway through the first half, closing the gap to 24-15 on a layup by Willinsky, forcing CU's first-year head coach Linda Lappe to call timeout.
Colorado led at the break 33-25.
Lindsay Leo scored the first point of the second half, then the Buffs reeled off six-straight points, with a basket from Julie Seabrook making it a 13-point game, 39-26, at the 16-minute mark.
Lena Gipson and Ashley Armstrong combined to score 12 points in the second half for Santa Clara, keeping the Broncos within 12 with 12:09 to play.
Brittany Spears made one of her two 3s moments later to push the lead back to 16 and Colorado would hold on for the win.
The Buffs rebounded from their one-point loss at the University of Denver on Tuesday while Santa Clara goes winless on their two-game trip to Colorado after losing 65-57 to Northern Colorado in Greeley on Wednesday.
Santa Clara is starting the year by playing 6 of 8 away from home. The Broncos will try for their first win next Tuesday at Cal State Bakersfield.
"We are a young basketball team; I'm not worried about the record right now," said Mountain. "I'm worried about us getting confidence and that is what we are lacking right now. We are a team that does shoot the ball really well. We've played three really good teams. We are not going to worry about the win-loss record right now; we are going to worry about getting better."
GAME NOTES: Kathy Willinsky's 14 points matched a career-high … Freshman guard Ricki Radanovich made her first start for Santa Clara … Meagan Fulps made 7 of her 8 free throw attempts, improving to 17 for 20 on the season from the foul line … SCU was hampered by slow starts in both games in Colorado, going a combined 3 for 19 from the floor to begin play against UNC and CU … SCU went without a 3-point basket until Ashley Armstrong made a baseline 3 with 12:23 left to play in the second half.