The final score certainly wasn’t what the Santa Clara Bruins were looking for at 59-37, but within the lopsided loss were significant signs of a young team capable of making strides.
After falling behind early by 15, the Bruins easily could have just rolled over and let the game slip away. Instead, they stuck with it and kept pushing. A quick 5-0 burst to end the first quarter brought them back to within 19-9. In the second quarter the Bruins outscored Carlmont 11-7 to enter the half down just six points at 26-20.
“We just picked up our defense and stopped playing afraid,” said Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota on her squad’s 16-7 run to close out the first half. “We keep trying to tell them that we need to be more aggressive and not scared. They have it in them, we always seem to have these spurts, but just can’t close out the games.”
The Bruins are unfortunately playing the duration of this 2018-19 season without star senior Kayleigh Watanabe who suffered a torn ACL over the summer.
“It’s been pretty tough,” admitted fellow senior Bonnie Liu on missing Watanabe. “She’s such a great player. But even now she’s still such a great, positive support on the bench. She’s like another coach with having such a high basketball IQ.”
Without Watanabe, it was Bonnie Liu’s younger sister Annie Liu helping get the Bruins’ offense going. The sophomore drained a three pointer as part of that 5-0 run to end the first quarter. The younger Liu has had to grow up quickly in helping take over some of that oncourt leadership.
“She’s definitely a floor leader and team leader,” remarked coach Kiyota on Annie Liu. “She’s definitely improved a lot from last year and is extremely valuable to the team this year.”
“Her leadership has definitely improved, I hear her talking on the court a lot now,” added older sister Bonnie Liu. “And she’s only a sophomore this year, so I’m really excited to see where she can take her game.”
Another one of the key figures for the Bruins in their comeback attempt was Magali Urresti. The senior’s full-court press defense helped force a couple of turnovers into quick baskets.
“Magali had a great game today,” chimed coach Kiyota. “She definitely came to play.”
“Magali played so well tonight,” echoed Bonnie Liu. “She was great on both offense and defense, got her rebounds, boxed out those five-nine girls as if they were five-one.”
The loss drops the Bruins’ record to 4-9. They will try to bounce back with games on Wednesday, Jan. 9 against rival Wilcox and Friday, Jan. 11 against Saratoga.