Broncos, Shoji Beat USF on Senior Day; SCU to Face Portland Thursday in Las Vegas

2012 WCC Tournament Bracket

SANTA CLARA, Calif. –
Santa Clara sent off one of its best-ever players with a 69-62 Senior Day victory over longtime rival USF on Saturday. Alyssa Shoji, the program's only senior and its all-time leading three-point shooter, made her first four shots including a trey, which not only shattered the school's single-season 3-point record, but put SCU up 17-2.  
 
The Broncos scored the game's first 14 points and when Shoji made her record-setting 95th triple of the year with 14:27 left in the first half, SCU was up 15.  Shoji finished with 13 points while junior teammate Lindsay Leo scored 15 and had 13 rebounds.
 
"I thought our energy level right from the beginning of the game was tremendous," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "Our kids were really emotional and into it. We had a great crowd today, which really helped us. There were a lot of different elementary school groups that came in today, and a lot of groups, including people with BAWSI, that have watched Alyssa over the past four years."
 
Santa Clara (12-17; 5-11 WCC) secures the No. 6-seed in the upcoming WCC tournament and will play No. 7-seed Portland on Thursday, March 1 in Las Vegas. The winner moves on to face the tournament's No. 3-seed San Diego on Friday.
 
USF (5-24; 3-13 WCC) was able to bounce back from the slow start to pull within four on three occasions in the second half. Seniors Rheina Ale, Vania Singleton and Katy Keating combined for 41 of USF's 62 points.

FINAL 2012 WCC STANDINGS
1. No. 21 Gonzaga (14-2) 25-4
2. BYU (12-4) 24-6
3. San Diego (12-4) 20-7
4. Saint Mary's (10-6) 19-9
5. Pepperdine (8-8) 13-14
6. Santa Clara (5-11) 12-17
7. Portland (4-12) 11-19   
8. San Francisco (3-13) 5-24
9. LMU (3-13) 7-21

Shoji's first 3 at the 15:57 mark capped a 14-0 start for Santa Clara. The Broncos made 9 of 13 shots to open the game and blocked four USF attempts during that huge run to open the contest. When Meagan Fulps drove and scored and Nici Gilday dropped in a midrange jumper on the next SCU possession, the Broncos' early lead swelled to 21-4.

Jamie Katuna got USF's offense going, making a long 3 to make it 24-10, then Rheina Ale converted an old-fashioned 3-point play, highlighting an 10-0 run that got the Dons back into it, 24-17. USF continued to hang around and Vania Singleterry's baseline bucket pulled the Dons within four, 34-30. Santa Clara would lead at the half, 38-32.

The Broncos were able to re-establish a double-digit advantage in the second half after a drive from Ashley Armstrong. The lead stayed at 10, thanks largely to baskets in the paint by SCU. A slashing lay up from Fulps and post-move from Leo made it 52-42 with 9:30 left.

USF made a push at the 7-minute mark, getting as close as six, 56-50, following hoops from Keating and Ale. However, the Broncos answered with what they do what they do best, shooting the 3.

Fulps and Ricki Radanovich connected on consecutive treys to stretch the advantage back out to 12, 62-50.

Ale would not let USF go quietly, making one of her only 3s inside of 4-minutes to get the Dons back within striking distance, 62-56. An intentional foul was whistled on SCU moments later and with 3:02 left, it was a four-point game 62-58.

Radanovich found Leo on a text-book lob pass from the left wing, and when Leo banked in the wide-open lay up, the margin was back to six, 64-58.