SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team finished the 2016-17 regular season with a statement Saturday, dominating rival Santa Clara on the road with another balanced attack as the Gaels headed toward the postseason with a 73-58 win over the Broncos at the Leavey Center.
The victory ensured the Gaels’ (18-11, 13-5 WCC) fourth top-three finish in the West Coast Conference in the last five years. It is their second consecutive second-place finish, as they ended the regular season tied with BYU at 13-5 in WCC play, just one game behind conference champion Gonzaga.
Saint Mary’s will be the No. 3 seed in next week’s WCC Tournament in Las Vegas by virtue of a tiebreaker with BYU, who beat Gonzaga one more time than the Gaels did. The Gaels will have a rematch with their rivals Santa Clara (14-15, 9-9 WCC) in the No. 3-No. 6 seed game. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. It will be televised live on BYUtv and the Gaels’ Gameday Central page.
The Gaels had three double-figure scorers for the third straight game and sixth in their last eight. Six Gaels scored at least six points. Sidney Raggio flirted with a triple-double, scoring a game-high 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds while tying a career high with six assists. Megan McKay scored 13 points with five rebounds and four assists. Devyn Galland added 12 points with four 3-pointers.
Saint Mary’s handed out 20 assists on 21 made field goals, its most helpers since Jan. 21. The Gaels also dominated the rebounding department again, beating the Broncos to the glass 40-25. That included a 31-14 advantage on the defensive end. Santa Clara missed 40 shots Saturday, going 19 for 59 (32.2 percent) from the field.
The Gaels also got their work done at the free-throw line. SMC made 26 of 30 free throws, an 86.7 percent performance. Raggio was a perfect 5-5. Jasmine Forcadilla went a perfect 6 for 6.
Saint Mary’s led by as much as 27 points in the fourth quarter after two of Forcadilla’s free throws made it 66-39. But Santa Clara closed the game on a 19-7 run to cut the deficit to 15 at game’s end.
The Gaels pulled away at the end of the first quarter with an 8-0 run, turning a four-point game into a 12-point lead after one. Their lead would never again drop below double digits. Another 9-0 run at the start of the third period gave SMC its first 20-point lead.
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