SAN DIEGO — The final six seconds of Saturday’s West Coast Conference women’s basketball matchup between Saint Mary’s and San Diego were a perfect snapshot of the previous 39 minutes and 54 seconds.
SMC’s Sydney Raggio hit a game-tying 3-pointer from the right wing with six seconds left on the clock, but USD’s Cori Woodward dribbled the ball coast to coast and sank an 18-foot jumper as time expired, beating the buzzer and sending the Toreros to a 73-71 win at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Shannon Mauldin made four free throws in the final 46 seconds to keep Saint Mary’s (6-7, 1-1 WCC) close, part of her team leading and season-high 18 points. She also sent USD’s Caroline Buhr to the free-throw line with a foul at the 15.5 seconds mark, but Buhr missed one of two, setting up Raggio’s game-tying trey.
With 90 seconds left and San Diego (7-5, 1-1 WCC) leading 66-64, Saint Mary’s had two chances to tie the game with a layup. Raggio missed the first attempt from underneath on the right side. Joy Akaegbu-Cleveland made a hustle play to steal the ball back, but Carly Turner missed on a drive. The Toreros answered with a layup on their end to hold a two-possession advantage the rest of the way.
The game featured 16 lead changes and five ties. Saint Mary’s led for nearly the entire second quarter and the end of the first, with a 35-32 lead at halftime. But San Diego came out with a 8-2 run in the third quarter and never trailed by more than one point after that. The buzzer-beating shot was the second one to top Saint Mary’s this season after UC Davis hit one to win 68-66 on Dec. 11.
Saint Mary’s outshot San Diego 49.2 to 46.3 percent. It was the first time the Gaels lost this season when outshooting their opponent. Saturday also marked the first time SMC was outrebounded this season. USD topped SMC on the glass, 32-30, after Saint Mary’s entered the game with 43.2 rebounds per game. Saint Mary’s also posted fewer turnovers than its opponent (20-19) for the third straight game but only led 18-17 in points off turnovers.
The Gaels struggled early in the first quarter. San Diego got out to as much as a seven-point lead at 17-10 thanks in part to six SMC turnovers in the first 4 1/2 minutes. The quarter alone featured seven lead changes and one tie. SMC recovered and ended the period on a 10-2 run in the final two minutes to lead 20-19.
Saint Mary’s next travels to BYU on Thursday before beginning a three-game West Coast Conference home stand on Jan. 7 against Bay Area rival San Francisco. Tickets are available for purchase on the Gaels’ tickets website or by calling the SMC Tickets Office at (925) 631-GoTx. Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on BYU.tv, while all of the Gaels’ home games will be streamed live on their “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
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