LAS VEGAS — The West Coast Conference’s best free-throw shooter Devyn Galland made two from the line with 26.8 seconds left, and Santa Clara missed three shots in the final 15 seconds as the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the 2017 WCC Tournament with a 60-57 quarterfinals win over Santa Clara at the Orleans Arena.
Sydney Raggio, who finished with a game-leading 19 points, made layups on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to give Saint Mary’s (19-11) one-point leads with less than five minutes to play. But it was Galland’s free throws that iced the game with less than 30 seconds to play.
Santa Clara (14-16) had the ball with 26.8 seconds left, but did not attempt its first shot until the 15 seconds mark. Game-tying 3-point attempts by Taylor Berry and Emily Wolph both missed, and Raggio corralled the clinching rebound as the final buzzer sounded.
Saint Mary’s advances to the semifinal No. 2 on Monday against the winner of the No. 2 seed BYU and No. 7 San Diego quarterfinal on Friday. The semifinal is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tipoff. The game will be televised by BYUtv and TheW.tv, and can be watched live on the Gaels’ Gameday Central page. The game will also be live audio streamed on the Gaels’ TuneIn channel with Alex Jensen on the call. The game is presented by Diablo Valley Insurance.
The Broncos turned the ball over twice in the final 90 seconds before their final possession, when Saint Mary’s was still leading by just one point at 58-57. Morgan McGwire’s second-chance layup with 2:12 left to play was Santa Clara’s final field goal of the game, giving it a 57-56 lead.
Raggio missed her fifth double-double of the season by one rebound, leading all players with nine boards. She also had two blocks, an assist and a steal. Galland finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Megan McKay added 10 with seven rebounds.
The victory was head coach Paul Thomas’ 450th of his career. It was his 214th as head coach of the Gaels. He earned his 200th SMC win on Dec. 16 in a 75-65 home win over Northern Colorado. Thomas is in his 25th year as a head coach, having coached at three different schools. He earned his first career win on Feb. 13, 1989 while in charge at Hamline (Minn.) University.
Thursday’s game featured 15 lead changes and nine ties. There were four lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter alone. Santa Clara took as large as a 10-point lead in the second quarter before carrying a nine-point, 32-23 advantage into the break.
But Saint Mary’s started the second half on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 32-32. The Gaels returned the turnovers favor to the Broncos by forcing giveaways on each their first four possessions in the third. The run rolled into a 16-3 stretch that gave SMC a 39-35 lead, its first lead since seconds into the second period.
13 Saint Mary’s turnovers in the first half gave way to 13 Santa Clara points. The Broncos also had the advantage at the free-throw line in the first half. SCU made 10 of 12 free-throw opportunities in the first two quarters, while SMC had just two made free throws out of four tries.
Santa Clara’s Emily Wolph hit three treys in the first half en route to 11 first-half points. But she was held scoreless the entire third quarter while the Gaels went on their run. She finished with a team-high 16. Marie Bertholdt scored 12 points. Morgan McGwire had nine points and a team-best seven rebounds.
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