Jan. 12, 2008
Santa Clara, CA - A well balanced offense and aggressive defensive effort was what led the Gaels over the Broncos Satruday night, with three players recording double figures, in Saint Mary's 74-71 win over the Broncos. Freshman Forward Louella Tomlinson came away with a double-double in the contest, posting a team-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. In her first game back off a four game rest junior Jontelle Smith finished with 18 points, knocking down 5-of-9 from the floor. Rounding out the double-digit figures was senior Lauren Shaughnessy with 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Gaels were ready to start the West Coast Conference out with a bang, as Saint Mary's took a 6-2 lead over the Broncos three minutes into play. Ball movement proved to be the key for the Gaels, as Tomlinson made a quick move down low, and kicked it out to a wide open Chambers at the free throw line. Chambers knocked down the open look, and the next time down the floor found Smith beyond the arc for three. With the back-to-back scores by Chambers and Smith the Gaels went up 12-9.
Once again Chambers would drive and kick, this time to Benavente on the wing. Benavente capitalized to give the Gaels a seven point lead, their largest lead of the half thus far. Santa Clara would continue to keep the game close, but they Gaels would never relinquish the lead, as they continued to find the bottom of the net throughout the first half.
Senior guard Lauren Shaughnessy would catch fire as she split three defenders to put the Gaels up 20-13, and would then hit a quick pull-up jumper to continue the Gaels' hot streak.
At the half the Gaels remained on top, 36-29, with Tomlinson and Smith leading the way with 10 and eight points respectively. Tomlinson also pulled down a team-high six rebounds in the first half, while tabbing five blocks.
Saint Mary's team defense held the Broncos to 25 percent shooting from the floor, as they were 10-of-40 in the first half. Santa Clara shot a mere 13 percent (2-of-15) from beyond the arc, while the Gaels shot perfectly, as they were 3-of-3 from long range.
Once again the Gaels started off with a spark; as they took a 40-31 lead to start the second half. Unfortunately for Saint Mary's the Broncos began to find their rhythm on the offensive end, as senior forward Jen Gottschalk dominated the Gaels both from the inside and outside. Joining Gottschalk was fellow senior, Chandice Cronk, Cronk awoke in the second half, knocking down a 15 footer on the baseline to give Santa Clara their first lead of the second half, 62-60, with 8:00 minutes to play.
Chambers then found Smith in transition beyond the arc with 6:08 to play, with Smith knocking down the three, to take back the lead 63-62. From that point on both teams battled for the lead, exchanging the advantage back and forth.
Benavente knocked down a big shot with three minutes remaining, as the Gaels would take a 69-66 lead over the Broncos. Saint Mary's would get a stop on the defensive end, as Smith was fouled on the block out and once again Benavente would make an important play for the Gaels, as she picked off a Bronco pass in the backcourt and found a streaking Smith for an easy bucket. The fast break lay-up came with 1:55 left to play, and put the Gaels up four points.
With the four point lead in hand and one minute to play, Smith would draw a foul on Cronk on a shot fake, hitting two free throws to give the Gaels a six point lead. The Broncos would respond with a three pointer, to cut the lead to three, and with 14.4 seconds left on the clock the Broncos would call a timeout.
Santa Clara had two opportunities to tie the game from beyond the arc, but came up short as the Gaels edged the Broncos 74-71 in the WCC opener. Jen Gottschalk led all players with 30 points in the game, as she scored 18 of her points in the second half.
The Gaels return to WCC action next weekend, as they head down south to face Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. The game against the Waves will take place on Thursday, January 17 at 7:00 PM, and then the Gaels will face the Lions on Saturday, January 19 at 2:00 PM.