LAS VEGAS – Playing its first ranked opponent of the season, Santa Clara women's basketball fell to No. 21 South Florida 63-54 Tuesday afternoon on the second day of the Play 4 Kay Shootout.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball, especially from beyond the arc. The Broncos (4-6) shot 33 percent overall and were 4 of 22 from deep. The Bulls (9-1) shot 39 percent and were 3of 15 from deep.
With Santa Clara within striking distance, the Bulls pulled away when they connected on five consecutive shots and went on a 10-0 run over three minutes in the third quarter to take a 53-35 lead with two minutes left in the period. The Broncos missed eight straight shots during the stretch and went almost five minutes without scoring before Lori Parkinson knocked down a pair of free throws.
Kitija Laksa led all scorers with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field. Ariadna Pujol added a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while Dorottya Nagy scored 13.
Santa Clara mounted its best comeback attempt as the start of the second quarter when it got three straight 3-pointers. Taylor Berry hit the first two and Marie Bertholdt's at the 8:07 make got the Broncos within 23-19. South Florida was able to respond and built its lead up to as much as 36-26 before halftime.
Berry led the Broncos with 14 points and was the team's best shooter, going 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 5 from deep. Morgan McGwire had a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards, her second-straight game with double-figure rebounds.
Despite Santa Clara jumping out to a quick lead, a 13-0 run by South Florida over three minutes in the first quarter gave the Bulls a 15-4 lead they would never surrender. The run began with a 3-pointer from Laksa and was capped with back-to-back layups by Pujol at the 4:25 mark.
The Broncos would cut into the deficit in the final three minutes with a 9-2 run to end the game but it wasn't enough.
Santa Clara closes out the tournament tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. against New Mexico State.
NEW MEXICO STATE