SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team recovered after a slow start and defeated Santa Clara 56-50 on Thursday night in the Leavey Center. The win was SMC's seventh consecutive win over the Broncos.
With the win, Saint Mary's takes sole possession of second-place in the West Coast Conference, improving to 13-5, 5-1 WCC. SCU drops to 12-7, 4-2 WCC.
"Our team showed tremendous composure down the stretch and made some keys plays that got us the victory," said head coach Paul Thomas.
Kate Gaze led the Gaels with 13 points while Ashlee Smith added 11 points off the bench. Carli Rosenthal chipped in with 10 points while Jackie Nared and Danielle Mauldin were held to nine points apiece. Mauldin did pull down a team-high 12 rebounds.
After being down for most of the first half, the Gaels used strong defense and rebounding to take the game in the second half.
Mauldin, Gaze and Rosenthal had the Gaels scoring on their first three possessions of the 2nd half and the Gaels opened up a 24-21 advantage at the 18:18 mark. Santa Clara answered with an 8-0 run to retake the lead.
The Gaels fought back and took a 47-43 lead after a three-pointer by Nared. After an SCU basket, Gaze drove the lane and made the lay-up for the 49-45 lead.
With the Gaels ahead 52-50, the Broncos had two possessions to tie or take the lead but the Gael defense forced a pair of turnovers. Mauldin sank two free-throws for the all-important four point lead with nine seconds left and a late steal by Hatten sealed the win for the Gaels.
In the first half, the Gaels were stuck on five points but played strong defense and only trailed by as many as six points at 11-5. Smith converted a three-point play to get the Gaels on track. SMC pulled within 15-13 after a Hatten to Gaze fast break with 3:13 left in the half. The Gaels scored on back-to-back possessions to close the half as Hatten drained a three ball and a Hendricksen to Rosenthal play made the score 21-18 SCU at the break.
Saint Mary's is back in action on Monday night when it hosts San Francisco at 7:00 p.m. in McKeon Pavilion.