Huge Second Half Allows Broncos 78-63 Win Over Pilots

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Alyssa Shoji scored 19 points, and made five threes, en route to breaking the all-time school record for 3-pointers in a career as Santa Clara posted a 78-63 West Coast Conference victory over visiting Portland on Thursday night.
 
Santa Clara (8-7; 1-1 WCC) was terrific in the second half, getting contributions from a number of different players to turn an 11-point halftime deficit into a 15-point win. Lindsay Leo had 16 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for the Broncos, who also received 18 points from Meagan Fulps and 15 from Ricki Radanovich.
 
Portland (7-10; 0-3 WCC) had led 43-32 at halftime, getting a season-high 20 points from Cassandra Brown. All-WCC forward Natalie Day had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the visitors, who have now lost 8 of 10.

"I really thought our second half, and the defensive effort especially, was tremendous," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We talked about it at halftime. We talked about not giving up the points we've been giving up and we stuck to that, only allowing 20 points in the second half."

The win was redeeming for a Bronco team that was edged last weekend against Pepperdine in their WCC opener, after leading that game by 22 at the break.

"We actually mentioned that at halftime as well," said Mountain. "I got into them a little bit about having pride defensively, getting stops and guarding the ball one-on-one."

SCU started the second half strong, scoring the first six points after the intermission, including Shoji's record-breaking triple, which came at the 18-minute mark, cutting the deficit to five, 43-38.

When Radanovich drew contact to produce a pair of three-point plays on the offensive end, the Broncos were within two, and Ashley Armstrong's layup moments later tied the game at 48 with 12:20 left.

Shoji's fifth 3-pointer, a baseline jumper, made possible by Leo's effort on the offensive glass, put the Broncos up 55-53. Radanovich buried another 3 and contributions from Telisha Anderson and Arteivia Lilomaiava off the bench were a big part of Santa Clara's second-half surge, giving SCU a 10-point lead with 7 minutes on the clock.

"I thought people coming off the bench were a huge spark for us, Telisha, Arteivia," said Mountain. "We've got to have that, giving people some blows here and there. Their intensity made quite a few things happen for us."

Fulps came out hot for SCU, making all four of her initial attempts, including two threes and accounted for 10 of Santa Clara's first 17 points. But the Pilots shot 59 percent from the field in the first half to establish control by halftime.

It was Fulps' no-look pass to Leo in transition, late in the second half, that made it clear Santa Clara would earn the win, setting off an extended celebration on the Bronco bench.

"We are fighters. We're going to need to get some legs back after this second half to come in fresh Monday against San Diego," said Mountain, looking ahead to the game with USD after the weekend. "San Diego is playing really well. They are a team we are going to have to do a good job defending. Defense is the key for us."

GAME NOTES:
Santa Clara moves to 6-3 at home … Alyssa Shoji now has 246 career 3-pointers, breaking the all-time school record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 … Shoji leads the nation in 3-point shooting, entering the game averaging 3.9 makes per game ... Lindsay Leo's 16-point, 17-rebound night gives her three double-doubles this season and sixth consecutive double-digit scoring game.