Bronco Weekly Sports Wrap Features Nici Gilday and Tyler Woods
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara senior guard Alyssa Shoji reached double figures in scoring for the 21st time this season, making five 3s to help the Broncos dominate the second half and beat league rival LMU 61-57.
Santa Clara (10-14; 3-8 WCC) trailed by as many as 13 in the first half but Shoji made four of her treys after the break and finished with 20 points. Junior classmates Lindsay Leo and Meagan Fulps combined to score 31.
LMU (7-17; 3-9 WCC) had won 3 of 5 WCC games coming in. Junior Alex Cowling matched her scoring average by pouring in a game-high 22 for the Lions, who had beaten Santa Clara in Los Angeles on Jan. 21.
Some impressive transition passing by Santa Clara, including a two-on-one dish from Ashley Armstrong to Fulps highlighted a Bronco push immediately following the intermission. When Shoji made a step-back three with 15:20 remaining the Lion's 32-21 halftime lead was sliced to one, 39-38.
"I really challenged (our players) in the beginning of that second half to put the defensive clamps down on people," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "I thought our energy level, collectively, throughout the game was pretty good. I also challenged our players to get the ball inside and they did a great job getting it into Lindsay (Leo)."
Leo made two free throws to complete the second-half comeback, putting the home team back in front for good at 40-39. Leo, the Broncos top scorer and rebounder in WCC play, scored 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.
Santa Clara's defense held LMU scoreless from the 17:04 mark though 9:25 and a 15-0 run was capped by one of Shoji's five treys to put the Broncos in command 47-39.
"I got a lot of rest this week to get my legs back," said Shoji, who is one of the nation's leading three-point shooters. "I was getting in balance, getting in rhythm and letting it fly."
The Lions trimmed the lead down to three on another DeAngelis long-ball. With 5:07 on the clock, it was anyone's game, 51-48.
Again it would be Shoji making a big shot, coming out of the under-four media timeout by dropping in a 19-footer. Now with SCU leading by six, 56-53, it was Cowling's turn to make a trey on the other end, tightening things back up heading into the final moments.
A pair of free throws from Fulps and an LMU turnover gave Santa Clara the ball and a five-point lead, 58-53, with 1:13 left. Fulps drove and scored, sealing it, despite SCU missing some free throws when LMU was forced to foul.
"It was so awesome," said Shoji about the crowd that showed up for 'Black Out Night' at the Leavey Center Thursday. "It was the loudest it's been in here in a long time and it was awesome to have the fans here, especially the Ruff Riders."
Fans are encouraged to WEAR PINK to Saturday afternoon's game against St. Mary's to support breast cancer awareness. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at the Leavey Center.