Celebrating their Senior Night on Tuesday, the Santa Clara Bruins girls basketball team found themselves trailing by as many as 24 points at one point in the third quarter. Senior starters Hasitha Dangeti and Alison Aochi helped key a furious comeback that made for a thrilling fourth quarter.
Trailing 41-17 midway through the third, Dangeti drained back-to-back buckets pulling the Bruins to within 18 points. Monta Vista responded with a three-pointer before Bruins sophomore guard Nina Llamas finished the quarter scoring with a nice step around and lay up to make the score 41-25 going into the fourth quarter.
The Bruins finished the third quarter on an 8-3 run, and they would carry the hot stretch into the fourth by opening the final frame with a 10-0 run. The 18-3 run, pulled the Bruins back from their lowest point, a 24-point deficit, to within nine at 44-35. Monta Vista would finally get on the board in the fourth quarter with just over two-and-a-half minutes remaining. A couple of buckets in a row increased their lead back to 14.
Santa Clara wasn’t done fighting though. Aochi would get to the line and nail both her free throws to cut it back to 12. Llamas followed that up with a three-pointer to bring it back to nine with 1:51 remaining.
Junior Vanessa Calvillo then came up with a steal on the full court press and was fouled. She would drain both free throws to pull Santa Clara within seven at 49-42 with 1:41 still to go. Unfortunately for Bruins fans, at this point, the comeback would stall out and the Matadors would seal the victory, eventually winning 53-43.
“I am so proud of this team. I’m really happy the way we moved the ball around and the way we played our defense,” chimed Dangeti after the game. “I couldn’t have asked for a better four years here.”
While Dangeti couldn’t have asked for a better four years overall, it would have certainly been fair to ask for better luck on Senior Night. Late in the first quarter, Llamas lost a contact, and the process to find a backup contact took longer than expected. The Bruins ended up playing the majority of the second quarter without the star point guard. That was the quarter in which Monta Vista primarily built its lead, outscoring Santa Clara 22-8 in that frame.
“Nina is such a great addition to our team; she helps bring the ball up. Our backcourt really struggled without her,” noted Aochi. “Not having her in the second quarter really made things difficult. We ended up turning it over quite a bit.”
Outside the second quarter, the Bruins outscored the Matadors overall. The first quarter ended with Monta Vista up by 5. But the third quarter was even at 13-13 and the fourth quarter saw Santa Clara win the quarter 20-9.
“It was a very odd night,” remarked Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota with a frustrated sigh. “[Nina] said she usually has backup contacts, but she didn’t have her bag and then there wasn’t any contact solution in our first aid kit.”
The Bruins will hope for better luck in the postseason. With a 7-5 league record and 13-10 overall, they now await their playoff schedule to be released.