Santa Clara Women Unable to Overcome Slow Start at LMU

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Alex Cowling scored 21 points and LMU fended off a big run out of halftime by Santa Clara to beat the Broncos 64-54 in West Coast Conference women's basketball action Saturday.

Santa Clara (8-11; 1-5 WCC), who trailed by 12 at halftime, received 23 points and three blocks from Lindsay Leo and Ricki Radanovich made three 3s to finish with 15. The Broncos went on a 10-1 run following the intermission, and were down by just three, 55-52, with 2:02 left.

LMU (5-14; 1-6 WCC) entered the game without a WCC victory. Clinging to a four-point lead inside of three minutes, Cowling made a clutch three-ball, a basket that gave the Lions just enough separation to eventually go on and win for the first time since Dec. 19.

The Lions forced Santa Clara into 13 first-half turnovers and closed out the half on a 17-4 run to lead at the break, 33-21.

When play resumed the Broncos looked like the inspired team that nearly upset No. 25 Gonzaga two nights ago. After Alyssa Shoji's drive and dish to Ashley Armstrong for an open shot on the baseline, the halftime deficit was sliced in half. The pair hooked up again moments later to make it 33-29.

Santa Clara's 10-1 run to open the second half tightened things up considerably.

With LMU leading by six at the 12-minute mark, Cowling banked in one of her seven field goals, which fueled a surge by the Lions and the lead would balloon back to 10 at 45-35.

Leo – who is providing a team-leading 12.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in WCC play – made the biggest impact on Santa Clara's comeback bid. The redshirt junior and San Jose native, scored 17 of her 23 points in the second half.

When she drew a foul in the paint and made two free throws, the Broncos were within four, 49-45. Another Leo basket, this one off a left-handed baseline drive made it 52-48 with 3:03 on the clock.

Cowling responded with a timely three-pointer from the top of the key, which would push the lead back out to seven, 55-48.

SCU got back within three but could not close the gap. With possession and trailing by six at the one-minute mark, jumpers from Shoji and Fulps would not drop. The Broncos made just one 3-pointer in the second half and went 4 for 15 from long range on the night.

GAME NOTES:
Sophomore F Arteivia Lilomaiava made her first career start for Santa Clara … Santa Clara's Ashley Armstrong eclipsed the 500-point plateau for her career … LMU's junior F Alex Cowling (20.8 ppg) entered the game as the WCC's leading scorer.