Women’s basketball finally ended their 17-game losing streak with a 58-52 victory over long time rival, Santa Clara University. The victory was the Dons’ fifth of the season and their first West Coast Conference victory, which puts their record at 5-24 overall and 1-11 in the WCC. With the loss, Santa Clara dropped to 3-24 overall and 1-11 in the WCC. The Dons are now tied for seventh place in the WCC with Santa Clara.
The game started slowly for both teams as each continuously missed shots and turned the ball over in the opening minutes. It took until the 14-minute mark for either team to score in the double digits as Santa Clara led 11-9. With neither team able to score efficiently no one was able to build much of a lead. Santa Clara went up by five around the 12-minute mark, after they went on a small run. The Dons did not allow Santa Clara to build on this lead, as they were able to tie the game. Even though USF did a good job of keeping the game close, they were unable to pull ahead in the first half. Sophomore guard Vania Singletarry was a bright spot for the Dons early on as she scored six points in the first half on 50 percent shooting as she made 3-6 shots from the field. Sophomore forward Katy Keating and sophomore guard Rheina Ale scored five points a piece for the Dons in the half.
With seven minutes remaining in half Santa Clara took a one point and they led for the remainder of the half. Santa Clara went into halftime with a 29-23 advantage over the Dons. Santa Clara went 11-29 from the field for an unimpressive 37.9% field goal percentage. They also struggled from the three-point line where they shot 3-9 from behind the arc for 33.3% and from the free-throw stripe they didn’t fare much better shooting 50% with four makes on eight attempts. USF didn’t shoot much better than Santa Clara making 37.5% of their field goals on 9-24 shooting, 66.7% from the three-point line on 2-3 shooting and 37.5% from the free-throw line on 3-8 shooting. The game was far from over for USF as they were set to come back from a small, six point deficit.
For the first three minutes of the second half Santa Clara built upon their lead, stretching it up to as much as nine points. But USF rallied around three-pointers by both Singletarry and Ale as well as a jumper by senior guard Nnenna Okereke. The eight-point run cut the Broncos lead to one. Santa Clara tried to pull away again but another three-pointer by Ale tied the game and gave the Dons even more momentum. USF took the lead on back-to-back lay-ups by junior forward Donnisha Taylor. On the next possession Keating hit a huge three pointer that put the Dons up by seven. After going up by seven, USF never let Santa Clara get within four points of the lead. USF expanded their lead to ten points, which was the largest any team led the entire game. USF did a great job of maintaining a lead that the Broncos were unable to come back from. Although Santa Clara chipped at the lead, USF always answered back with points of their own. A large reason USF was able to hold onto their lead was a lay-up by junior guard Brittany Brumfield, that put USF by six after Santa Clara cut the lead to four with two minutes to play. USF was able to clinch the victory with clutch free throws at the end of the game.
USF was able to win the game because they shot significantly better in the second half, while forcing Santa Clara to make fewer shots. USF made an impressive 48% of their shots in the second half on 12-25 shooting, while also making 4-6 three pointers for 66.7%. Santa Clara meanwhile shot a pedestrian 10-31 from the field as they made 32.3% of their shots and went 0-8 from the three point line. USF will look to build on this victory when they host Portland on 25th and Gonzaga on the 27th to close out the season.