Women’s basketball celebrates senior day

On Friday, Feb.18, the University of San Diego Toreros women’s basketball team won a thriller over the Santa Clara University Broncos 60-58. It was senior day, and it seemed fitting that a senior would be the one who would carry the team to victory.

Senior guard Katherine Hamilton scored the final bucket with three seconds left to seal the victory for the Toreros.

This game was scintillating up until the final buzzer, with 12 lead changes and no team ever having a lead larger than five points. The Toreros honored three seniors before the game: Edi Utibe, Katherine Hamilton, and Cori Woodward.

While Hamilton scored the game winner, her fellow senior teammate Woodward scored nine of her team-high 16 points in the final five minutes and hit a huge three pointer with only 37 seconds left to take the lead.

Senior center Edi Utibe poses for a picture on the JCP court. Photo courtesy of USD Athletics

The Toreros were on fire to start the game but were afflicted by their own mistakes. They made five of their first six shots, but turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter. After the Broncos made three of their first four shots, the Torero defense tightened up, forced six turnovers, and held Santa Clara to just one field goal in the first quarter.

With the score knotted up at 12 starting the second quarter, each team struggled to score. Both teams combined for five field goals in the second quarter. The Toreros were owning the boards with a 20-9 rebounding advantage in the first half and brought a 25-23 lead into the locker room at half.

After being careless with the ball in the first half, the Toreros had six turnovers the rest of the way. The Broncos took a 50-45 lead, their largest of the day, with only five minutes remaining. That is when the USD seniors came to play. Woodward scored or assisted on 13 of the final 15 Torero points.

Down by two with less than a minute remaining, Woodward hit a clutch three from the wing with 37 seconds left on an assist from Hamilton. The Broncos’ Kyla Martin then knotted it back up with six seconds remaining. The Jenny Craig Pavilion went quiet and head coach Cindy Fisher called a timeout. She knew she wanted to get the ball into the hands of one of her seniors.

Senior guard Cori Woodward holds a bouquet of flowers as she takes the court. Photo courtesy of USD Athletics

From the sideline, Woodward inbounded the ball to a cutting Hamilton who finished the tough shot with only three seconds remaining. Kyla Martin sprinted down the court hoping for a miracle, but her attempt came up short.

The Toreros shot 46 percent from the field (19-41) and assisted on 15 of their 19 made shots. The Broncos shot 42 percent (22-52) and shot a measly 6 for 20 from behind the three point line. USD dominated, pulling down 34 rebounds to the Broncos’ 24. Caroline Buhr’s 10 rebounds led the way for USD.

The Toreros had four players score at least nine points, led by Woodward’s 16. Hamilton had 11, Sydney Williams had 10, and Aubrey Ward-El came up huge with nine points and five assists. Marie Bertholdt led the Broncos with 18, followed by Emily Wolph and Kyla Martin, with each of them dropping 13.

The Toreros face a daunting test next week as they head up to the Pacific Northwest. They first take on the conference leading Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday at 6 p.m. Then, they will head to Portland to take on the Pilots on Saturday at 2 p.m.

These may be tough tasks, but, as our seniors showed on Friday night, the veterans are great at finding a way to carry our Toreros to victory.

Written by Jake Ellis, Contributor