SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Despite strong performances from Ruta Zurauskyte and Meagan Fulps, the Santa Clara women's basketball team fell to visiting Gonzaga 70-55 Thursday night at the Leavey Center. The Broncos move to 13-13 overall, 5-8 in the WCC. Gonzaga improves to 23-5, 13-1 in the WCC.
The Broncos return to action on Feb. 23, hosting Pepperdine with a 2 p.m. tip in the Leavey Center.
Zurauskyte notched her fifth double-double of the season, ending the night with 19 points and 11 rebounds. She was one point shy of hitting the 20-point mark, a feat she has accomplished three times this year.
Fulps scored 15 points, including 4-of-6 from distance. Ricki Radanovich ended with six points; the sharpshooter was held scoreless in the second half. The Broncos shot 20-45 from field goal range, for 44.4 percent. Raquel Avila dished out seven assists, tying her career-high.
Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain recognized the play of Fulps. "It's her senior year and she has been struggling to shoot the ball, but she just played relaxed tonight as far as shooting the ball from outside," said Mountain. "She has worked a lot in the past few days, trying to get herself in rhythm."
Taelor Karr poured in 13 of the Bulldogs' 39 points in the first half, including 3-of-5 from distance. Karr ended the night with 27 points, tying her career-high, connecting on 6-of-8 from downtown. The Bulldogs as a team shot 29-of-78 from field goal range, good for 37.2 percent. Gonzaga pulled down 31 offensive rebounds, the most Santa Clara has surrendered this season.
The Broncos were riddled early on by foul trouble, sending the Bulldogs to the bonus with 13:28 left in the first. Gonzaga couldn't get back to the line following that point, shooting just 1-of-2 from the stripe for the rest of the half.
Santa Clara held tough in the first half, tying the game at 2-2 early. The Broncos would fall behind by as many as 11 in the first, seeing Gonzaga go on a 9-6 run, including five points in that span from Karr. Santa Clara stopped the bleeding with a bucket from Fulps, and pulled within five, at 24-29, with 2:33 left before the break. Gonzaga finished strong, with Karr draining back-to-back three's, igniting an 8-0 Bulldogs run before the half.
Nici Gilday, starting in just her eighth game of the season, chipped in with four points and three assists in the first. She ended the night with six points and five rebounds.
Behind Karr's 27 points, Gonzaga's Haiden Palmer added 14 points and six rebounds – all offensive, and Sunny Greinacher chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds.
The Broncos came out firing in the second half, scoring a quick bucket from Fulps off an assist from Avila. Zurauskyte added a bucket of her own, but Karr stopped the bleeding with a three, giving the Bulldogs a 10-point lead, at 42-32 with 16:52 left to play.
Fulps drained back-to-back three's to pull the Broncos within six, at 40-46, with 13:37 remaining. Gonzaga responded, rattling off eight unanswered points, four from Palmer, for their largest lead of the night, up 14, 40-54. Following Fulps' second three-ball at 13:37, the Broncos went cold for the following six minutes, not scoring again until Vanessa Leo made a layup at the 7:19 minute mark, ending Gonzaga's 16-0 run.
Santa Clara played the Bulldogs even for the last four minutes, ending the game at 55-70.