March 7, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Portland's Kari Luttinen scored a game-high 17 points, which included a clutch three-pointer late, Jasmine Wooton added 16 and Cassandra Thompson finished with 14 as the Pilots overcame the Santa Clara Broncos 70-64 in the Second Round of the West Coast Conference Championships on Thursday afternoon at the Orleans Arena. The Pilots, who are the seventh seed, improve to 11-19 overall and advance to play No. 3 seed Saint Mary's in the Quarterfinals on Friday.
The sixth-seeded Broncos end the season with a 14-16 record.
The game was close throughout, but Portland was able to lead for most of the second half. The Pilots, though, could never quite shake the Broncos, and when Meagan Fulps hit a step-back three-pointer with 3:22 left, Santa Clara was within 61-60. Moments later, Fulps hit one of two free throws to tie the score.
At the other end, the Broncos rebounded a Portland miss and had the ball with a chance to take the lead with 2:43 left. That's when Wooton drew a charge, giving the ball back to Portland with the score still tied. Wooton then found Luttinen open for a three, and the sophomore guard hit nothing but net to hand the Pilots a slim 64-61 lead.
SCU's Nikki Radanovich answered with a three-pointer of her own and the score was tied once again with less than 90 seconds remaining.
The Pilots then got a huge offensive rebound by Alexis Byrd, which led to Wooton driving into the lane and hitting the go-ahead lay-up with only 56 seconds showing on the clock. The Broncos were then forced to foul after committing a turnover, and Luttinen hit a pair from the line with 30 seconds left.
A pair of Santa Clara misses at the other end led to another foul and two more free throws for Luttinen, who put the game on ice.
"During those final minutes it was all about focus for us," said Luttinen following the game. "We wanted to stay calm, play good defense and execute on offense, and it worked out for us."
"We played hard and never quit," head coach Jim Sollars said, "but that's been the case all year long."
Luttinen finished with four three-pointers to score in double figures for the 20th time this season. Wooton continued her strong second half of the season, shooting five of nine from the floor, and she added six rebounds. Thompson hit five of seven and grabbed eight rebounds.
"We played good team defense and we covered each other's back on offense," noted Wooton. "We kept our heads up all game and we didn't let turnovers and missed shots get us down."
Amy Pupa was Portland's top rebounder with 10 boards, which marks the 10th time this year to hit double-digits in rebounds for the junior forward. The Pilots were able to claim a 39-32 edge on the glass.
The Pilots shot 48.0 percent in the first half and finished at 44.0 percent (22-for-50) for the game. Portland connected on six three's and went 20-for-26 at the line. Santa Clara shot 38.7 percent (24-for-62), hit 10 three-pointers and was six of 11 on free throws.
Fulps scored a game-high 19 points.
The Broncos led early in the first half before the Pilots heated up from the field to surge ahead. Two straight three-pointers from Thompson and Luttinen pushed the Portland lead to eight points before a pair of free throws and another three from Luttinen made it 24-11.
The Broncos responded with a lengthy 21-5 run that would give Santa Clara a 32-29 lead with just 2:00 remaining in the first stanza. The Pilots re-grouped to score the final six points of the half and take a 35-32 lead into the locker room.
The game featured 10 ties and nine lead changes.
The Pilots and Gaels played two close games this season, with Saint Mary's (19-9) winning 58-53 in Moraga, Calif., and 49-43 in Portland.
Tip-off tomorrow is set for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live nationally on BYUtv.