SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With seeding in the conference tournament on the line, Santa Clara women's basketball fell to LMU by a final of 88-74. The loss puts the Broncos at 9-19 overall and 5-12 in WCC action while the Lions are now 9-19 overall and 6-11 in conference play.
Santa Clara returns to the floor Sat., March 1 at 2 p.m. for Senior Day vs. Pepperdine.
"We're just going to focus on Saturday and sending our seniors off with a win," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "It would have been hard for us to avoid the play-in game in the tournament regardless of how we did this weekend. I'm disappointed in our defensive effort today but we have to bounce back for Saturday."
Santa Clara shot 41.9% (26-62) from the field and 31.6% (6-19) from three. The Broncos had 38 rebounds, 15 assists, 14 turnovers, one block, and five steals. Nici Gilday led the offense with a program-high 40 points on 15-23 shooting. The makes and attempts were career-highs for Gilday. Earlier this season she set a career-high with 34 points at LMU. This season Gilday is averaging 37.0 ppg vs. the Lions. The previous program-high for points in a game was 39 points by Dorinda Linstrom at Fresno State on Nov. 30, 1986. Gilday's 15 field goals were also second in the history of the program, behind only Lindstrom in the same game when she made 17 from the floor. Gilday's 40 points were also the second-highest output in the WCC this season. Bria Richardson of Pepperdine scored 44 vs. Santa Clara on Jan. 2.
"It's really exciting to set a record like that but it would have been sweeter if we had been able to get the win," said Gilday. "I knew I was scoring the ball and my shot felt good but I wasn't aware until after the game and people came up to me to tell me I had scored 40. I had never scored that many points in a game at any level before. One of my old coaches, Creighton Lane, passed away recently so I want to dedicate this performance to him."
"She had a tremendous night tonight and was the hot hand," said Mountain. "She was in the zone and when you're feeling it, you're feeling it. She got to the rim just like she did the first time we played LMU this year. About five or 10 minutes into the game she was getting shots that she wanted. Her effort was there tonight."
LMU shot 43.9% (29-66) from the field and 25.0% (4-16) from three. The Lions had 46 rebounds, 17 assists, nine turnovers, and five steals. Hazel Ramirez led the offense with 21 points on 13-14 shooting from the free throw line and nine assists. Deanna Johnson and Leslie Wood-Lopez each scored 18 points while Mackenzie Kerins had 12 points and 14 boards.
After Santa Clara made the first bucket of the game, Ramirez converted a three-point play and Emily Ben-Jumbo made a layup to make it 5-2 Lions. Jo Paine came right back with a three to tie the game at 17:21.
The Broncos went on an 8-0 run over 2:47 and held the Lions 0-3 from the floor. Gilday slashed to the lane at the 14-minute mark to give the Broncos the lead at 13-11. Johnson hit a jumper at 12:53 to end the run and make it a 15-13 Santa Clara lead.
After LMU tied the score at 15-15, Vanessa Leo made a beautiful pass from the block to Ricki Radanovich who drained a three. Johnson came back with a short jumper on the other end to make it a one-point game.
The Lions took a two-point lead with 4:50 left in the opening half but Santa Clara came back with two jumpers by Gilday to get back out on top 28-26. Alexis Love came back with a layup in transition to tie the game with 2:51 remaining on the clock.
LMU built a four-point lead with five-straight points and were able to hold the ball for the final possession of the first half after some offensive rebounds. The Lions couldn't convert and a half court short for the Broncos fell short. The teams went to the locker room with the score 35-31 LMU.
Santa Clara shot 43.5% (10-23) from the field and 28.6% (2-7) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 19 rebounds, five assists, nine turnovers, and two steals. Gilday led the offense with 13 points on 5-10 shooting from the floor. Marie Bertholdt scored six points with four rebounds and Paine added six points with three boards.
LMU shot 40.5% (15-37) from the field and 0.0% (0-6) from three in the first half. The Lions had 22 rebounds, six assists, four turnovers, and three steals. Johnson led the offense with 11 points on 5-14 shooting. Ramirez scored eight points with two steals while Kerins scored four points with 10 rebounds.
Lopez-Wood hit a three and a deep two right out of the half to get the LMU lead to nine-points. Gilday hit a fade away bank to get the Broncos on the board in the second half and Bertholdt came back with a turn around jumper.
The Broncos go within two at the 15:10 mark in the second half after a pair of free throws from Gilday and a three from Paine. Kerins answered back with a tough layup on the ensuing LMU possession.
LMU went on a 7-0 run in just 57 seconds to get the lead back out to nine points with 13:46 left in the second half. Gilday ended the run with a jumper off an in bounds pass.
Gilday went on a 7-0 run by herself over 1:11 to get Santa Clara within one at the 11:57 mark. She made two jumpers and drilled a three while LMU was 0-3 from the field. Lopez-Wood hit a three to end the run at 10:22.
An 8-0 run by the Lions followed over 1:37 while Santa Clara was 0-5 from the floor. Walters finally got the Broncos back on the board with a deep two that made the score 60-53 LMU with 8:39 remaining.
The LMU lead grew to 10 points on a three by Lopez-Wood at 8:20 and Ben-Jumbo made a free throw. Gilday hit a jumper and Paine went coast-to-coast for a layup to get within seven at 6:31.
Another three from Lopez-Wood helped the Lions go on a 9-0 run over 1:41 to make the Bronco deficit a game-high 15. Santa Clara was 0-6 from the field during the run and finally scored when Bertholdt made a pair from the charity stripe at 3:53 to make the score 73-59. Walters made a three on the next possession for the first Santa Clara field goal in 3:18.
Gilday made a three with 45 seconds left and was fouled after a Santa Clara steal on another three attempts. She connected on all three free throws to make the score 84-74 with 37 seconds left but it wasn't enough and LMU held on for the win.
Game Notes: Attendance was 375.