SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara University used a 14-4 second-half run to pull away from visiting Sonoma State and win its home exhibition game 62-45.
Bronco frontcourt players Ruta Zurauskyte and Lindsay Leo (pictured) combined for 21 points and 14 rebounds, true freshman guard Tyler Woods added eight points and all-league guard Alyssa Shoji had six steals.
"The combination of Ruta, Linsday and Ashley (Armstrong) tonight worked well for us," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain when asked about the team's presence in the post. "I think we have a nice balance of inside and outside play. We obviously didn't shoot the ball well today, but we have a lot of threats on the floor and a lot of different combinations we can go to."
The Broncos used a stout defense to force 26 turnovers, which included 12 steals and blocked five shots to overcome a 2-for-20 shooting clip from beyond the arc. Both teams shot just 33 percent from the floor overall.
Santa Clara will officially open the season at home on Friday night against CSU Bakersfield. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. and will be the first part of a basketball doubleheader at the Leavey Center, with the SCU men's team hosting UC Merced at 7:30 p.m.
Sonoma State won its home exhibition Oct. 28 against basketball newcomer Cal State San Marcos 69-68. The Seawolves received a team-high nine points from Jaclyn Bisordi.
Getting her first career start, Zurauskyte had six points and six rebounds in the opening half. Ricki Radanovich made three of her first six shots and the Broncos took a 27-20 lead into the locker room at the break.
In the early stages of the second half, Shoji made the team's second and final three-point attempt of the night to give Santa Clara a double-digit lead at 34-24.
However the Seawolves responded on the defensive end by keeping the Broncos off the scoreboard, then cutting into the lead on a Travis Newman bucket at the 15 minute mark to make it 34-28.
SSU continued to hang around. A pair of free throws from Taylor Vigil made it 42-32 with 11:15 remaining, but that was as close as the Seawolves would get the rest of the way.
"The defensive side of the basketball is where we really want to make changes, and then push the basketball and the tempo," said Mountain.
That's exactly what sparked SCU's decisive surge, ignited by the play of Leo and Woods. Leo scored six of her 11 points and had four rebounds after the intermission. One of her blocked shots led to a transition basket by Woods, which put the Broncos in front by 15.
Nici Gilday's breakaway lay in moments later made it 51-34 SCU with 8:09 to play and the lead grew to as many as 20 from there.
"This certainly wasn't our best performance," said Mountain. "We've got to continue to get better on both sides of the ball. Getting some players game experience will help with that. We have a lot of people out there that have not played a lot. Ruta is one of them, along with our freshmen."