SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Santa Clara played its most complete game to-date, doing it on the road, beating league rival San Francisco Saturday at War Memorial Gym, 69-50. It was the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Leading by nine at halftime, Lena Gipson and Alyssa Shoji scored on the first two possessions following the intermission, allowing Santa Clara to open up a 20-point lead midway through the second half.
Santa Clara (5-10; 1-0 WCC) has won three straight and five of seven.
"We came out with energy in both halves, defensively especially. I also thought we did a great job of being patient at both ends of the floor," said SCU head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We shared the ball really well, probably the best we have all year long. I was really impressed with the effort tonight."
Gipson was 8 of 8 from the field and finished with a game-high 17 points. Senior classmate Kathy Willinsky got her first start of the year and responded by scoring 12 points and clearing a team-best seven rebounds.
The Broncos shot a season-high 54 perecent (27 of 50) from the field and Shoji, Ricki Radanovich and Ashley Armstrong combined to make six 3s.
The Dons (3-12; 0-1 WCC) took advantage of a six-minute SCU scoring draught late in the second half to get as close as 10 with five minutes to play on a transition basket by Kelly Jo Mullaney. Mullaney had 10 points and eight rebounds. She was the only Don to reach double-figures in scoring.
"We played well at times at the beginning of the season but were not able to get wins on the road," said Mountain when questioned about her team's midseason turnaround. "Right now we are playing with a lot of confidence, winning close games, being in tight situations and coming out on the right end of it. We have momentum but every single night in the WCC is a battle."
Next up for Santa Clara is a pair of home games next week, hosting San Diego Thursday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. and St. Mary's Saturday, Jan. 15 at 2 p.m.