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Santa Clara Drops 85-83 Thriller To Miami

Nov. 16, 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The offense for the Santa Clara women's basketball team proved its ability to score at will Tuesday night, but difficulties on the defensive half ended up coming back to haunt the team as the Broncos dropped a fast-paced 85-83 decision to the Miami Hurricanes at the Leavey Center.

The Broncos remain home to host the Cal Poly Mustangs Friday night at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for games at Boise State and BYU next week.

Santa Clara got solid production from the starting five, as four players scored in double figures. Chandice Cronk set a new career-high for the second game in a row with 25 points behind 6-of-10 shooting from behind the arc. Ashley Gonnerman drained four threes and grabbed six rebounds while scoring 18, Ashley Graham added 15 points and seven assists while Jen Gottschalk contributed 11 points and five boards to the effort.

SCU hit 13 of their 24 three-point attempts in the contest, and went 12-of-13 from the free-throw line, but were out-rebounded 49-34 by Miami, as the Hurricanes' Maurita Reid and Brittany Denson each grabbed 10 rebounds to lead all players. Renee Taylor led Miami with 26 points, while Reid added 25 and Denson 18 to lead the Hurricane offense.

"There were certain areas of our offense that I was pleased with, but we had some very costly turnovers at crucial times," said Santa Clara head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "We have to make better decisions and take better care of the ball on the offensive end."

"Our goal is to have balance in our scoring attack, and tonight proved that we definitely have that," Bento-Jackson added. "There are a few wrinkles that we need to fix, though, one being to take better care of the ball, and some things on the defensive end in order for us to have success."

The contest got off to an action-packed start, as the teams combined for 33 points in the first five minutes, with Santa Clara leading 20-13. Gonnerman and Gottschalk scored eight and six points, respectively, in this opening outburst, as Gonnerman hit a pair of threes and Gottschalk pounded the ball inside.

Santa Clara continued to keep Miami at distance, getting the lead out to 39-30 on a Gonnerman jumper with five minutes left in the half, but in the next three-plus minutes, Miami used an 11-2 run behind five points from Denson and a three from Reid that tied the game at 41-apiece. But the Broncos rallied with jumpers from Gottschalk and Tracey Walker to take a 45-41 lead into the break.

Although Miami opened the second half with a three to cut the Bronco lead to one, Cronk sandwiched a pair of her career-high six three-pointers around a Graham trey to give the Broncos their largest lead of the night at 10 at 54-44. Miami cut things to four by scoring six straight points, but Cronk again prevented a run by draining another three.

"We were working the ball around well and setting good screens, which gets us open for threes," Graham said about SCU's outside shooting success Wednesday night.

After the teams went scoreless for the next 2:28, Cronk hit another three to again put SCU up by 10 at 60-50. The Hurricanes cut the lead to three at 62-59 behind the play of Denson and Reid, but another three from Cronk followed by a pair of free throws from Graham and a Claire Goins jumper helped build the Bronco lead back up to seven at 69-62.

Again, though, Miami continued to inch closer, using a 9-2 run to tie things at 71-71, and once again, the Broncos got separation with six straight points, but this time the Hurricanes answered with six of their own, tying the game at 77, then getting two more free throws to take their first lead since being up 9-7 in the game's early stages.

A pair of Gottschalk free throws tied things at 79-79, but the Hurricanes took the lead for good as Taylor drove the lane for another layup on the ensuing possession. Although the Broncos cut it to one at 84-83 and had an inbound situation with just over six seconds remaining and down only two after Reid made only one free throw of the double bonus, the SCU night ended after Graham's coast-to-coast runner fell short.