The Santa Clara Bruins varsity basketball squad started Tuesday’s rivalry rematch with Wilcox clearly on a mission. After dropping the first tilt with Wilcox exactly three weeks prior by a 39-30 final, the Bruins came out with their hair on fire in this one.
Whatever the opposite of hibernation is, that’s exactly what the Bruins were to start this game. Type in hibernation into an online thesaurus and you get antonyms of energy, liveliness, ambition, vigor, hustle and work. The Bruins did all of that, going to work immediately by building a 27-8 lead in the middle of the second quarter.
“I think the loss against Wilcox the first game really fired us up. The speeches after that game as well. Our coaches were letting us know that we should have beat that team,” chimed Bruins forward Charm Azul. “I think that was the fire that helped us get off to such a hot start tonight.”
“The last game was a game where we hadn’t played Wilcox in a while and it’s a big rivalry. I felt like Wilcox came out to play and really wanted it and we were just so tense and over excited and didn’t know what we were doing,” noted Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota. “But tonight, we told them about the hostile environment. The fans are going to be yelling at you, just pretend that Wilcox is just another team, not Wilcox. And I feel like in the locker room before the game, they were a lot more relaxed and so I think that helped us a lot.”
Another key that helped the Bruins a lot in this game was the turnaround performance from sophomore center Mia Talalele. In the first matchup with the Chargers, Talalele was outplayed by Wilcox bigs Addy Munoz and Gielle Holubiczko. This time, Talalele dominated in the paint at both ends.
“I really did take that first game personally, I was really upset about my performance,” admitted Talalele. “I told myself they weren’t going to do that this time, so I took over my paint and owned it this time.”
“I was extremely impressed by Mia tonight,” praised Bruins junior guard Kendall Yee. “She showed out tonight. She’s our big and we are usually outnumbered, we’re a small team. Mia worked really hard on the glass tonight.”
Along with Talalele’s presence inside, the Bruins got their outside shots to fall in this one as well. Star guard Nina Llamas was just that, a star. The junior swished home back-to-back threes to push a three-point lead to a nine-point lead late in the first quarter. She also put the game away late in this one with a bunch of free throws when the Chargers were forced to foul trailing by double digits. The Bruins would put the game away and exact their revenge with a 62-50 final.
Azul and senior guard Vanessa Calvillo also drained threes for the Bruins. Yee added an incredibly acrobatic and-one layup with a deft touch of the ball high off the glass as all five Bruins starters delivered clutch plays.
With the win, Santa Clara improves to 5-4 in league and will host Mountain View on Thursday, Feb. 2. Wilcox, meanwhile, falls to 5-3. The Chargers will also play on Thursday as they look to bounce back, playing on the road against Gunn.