Toreros stay hot at home

First-year guard Myah Pace dived for a ball as part of the Toreros’ effort on defense. USD did not allow a single point from Santa Clara in the first quarter.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Christensen

Strong defense leads USD to a 51-40 win over Santa Clara University

Anderson Haigler| Sports Editor | The USD Vista

Coming off of a victory against Pepperdine University last week, the University of San Diego women’s basketball team continued their momentum during Saturday afternoon’s game at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Donning their pink-and-white breast cancer awareness uniforms, USD muscled their way to a 51-40 victory over Santa Clara University behind strong performances from both Maya Hood and Aubrey Ward-El. 

The Toreros raced to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, not allowing a single point until the beginning of the second quarter. A large part of this stifling defense was Maya Hood, who led the way with 10 defensive rebounds, six of which came in the first quarter. Her rebounds also came alongside 14 points offensively. Hood, a sixth-year forward, spoke about her performance.

“I know that my role is really big on this team,” Hood said. “When I’m getting up on defense, when I’m getting steals and getting the passing game, I think that that creates a lot of energy and momentum for my team, so I just really try to focus on that each game.”

USD made the most of the Broncos’ turnovers, and Aubrey Ward-El paced the Toreros with 14 points, shooting  6 for 12 from the field. 

The Toreros maintained their dominance over Santa Clara throughout the first half, entering halftime with a nine point, 26-16 lead over the Broncos. 

Aubrey Ward-El scored 14 points in the Toreros’ victory over Santa Clara University.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Christensen

As play resumed in the second half, it seemed like USD lacked their energy from the first two quarters. Missed free throws, lapses on defense, and a cold spell offensively resulted in the Toreros’ lead shrinking to just one point at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  Charise Holloway lead the Broncos’ efforts to get back in the game, scoring nine of her 19 total points in the third quarter. 

Charise Holloway led the Broncos’ efforts to get back in the game, scoring nine of her 19 total points in the third quarter. 

The Toreros, however, were not about to let this game slip away. They halted Santa Clara’s comeback at 33-32, and quickly surged back against the Broncos. At the center of the Toreros’ quick fourth-quarter turnaround was Aubrey Ward-El, who scored seven of her 14 total points in the final quarter. As the game wound its way to a close, the stingy Torero defense from the first half returned, and Santa Clara faded as USD collected a victory. 

USD head coach Cindy Fisher said that she liked how her team closed out Saturday’s game.

“I was just really proud of them finishing,” Fisher said. “I thought we came out of the gates strong. We had a great gameplan going into this game and we executed it perfectly. Santa Clara came back, and they have a lot of tough kids on their roster. Charise Holloway, we knew that she could get going, and we let her get away from us a couple times. But I just thought that our kids executed well down the stretch. We fixed our defense a little bit and got them a little off balance, and just did some really nice things.”

Saturday’s victory against the Broncos marked USD’s second straight win, and moved the Toreros to 14-11 on the year, evening their conference record at 7-7. This places them squarely in the middle of the West Coast Conference (WCC) standings at sixth place. With only four games remaining against three of the five teams that sit above them in the standings, the Toreros will have a chance to ascend to the WCC tournament on a high note. 

Senior Sydney Williams drives toward the hoop; she had nine points in the game.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Christensen

Coach Fisher spoke about her outlook for the rest of the regular season.

“It’s just about getting better every game we can until that conference tournament gets here and then going in there to win that thing,” Fisher said. 

The Toreros will embark on a road trip for a series of games at University of the Pacific, Brigham Young University, and Gonzaga University before returning home for their last game. Their regular season concludes with a game against the University of San Francisco  on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in the JCP. 

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