Taking on Mountain View back on Jan. 31, the Santa Clara Bruins basketball team witnessed two of its players reach the mountain top of individual success. A team which has featured a core four all season, the Bruins, saw its top two scorers, No. 5 Nina Llamas and No. 21 Mia Talalele, each score their 999th and 1,000th career points in a 59-38 victory over the Spartans.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” responded Talalele on if reaching the milestone was weighing on her mind as it approached. “It was one of my goals this year and I was working towards it, but definitely felt better when I wasn’t thinking about it.”
Both Talalele and Llamas were made aware of the potential milestone well before it was even a possibility. Prior to the 2021-22 season, which was Talalele’s freshman year and Llamas’ sophomore year, the two were around for a celebration of recently graduated alumnus Annie Liu’s 1,000th point celebration.
Being made aware of the milestone prior to being on the precipice of it certainly helped both Llamas and Talalele focus on the task at hand—winning basketball games. It also helped that the dynamic duo were approaching it together and not alone in the spotlight.
“It’s really amazing to get to share this with Mia. You never really get to see two athletes in the same game achieve such a big goal in their career,” chimed Llamas. “Sharing that moment with her felt really special.”
“I was so happy to do it with Nina because you know, that’s my girl, that’s my duo,” added Talalele. “So happy to reach it with her. Our chemistry is so strong and I feel like she and I are unstoppable.”
Another part of the team who seems unstoppable is Head Coach Deedee Kiyota. Now in her 26th year coaching the Bruins, Kiyota couldn’t be any prouder seeing the girls achieving goals that she knew they could reach if they put in the work.
“For Mia, after her freshman year, we were like, ‘Hey, this is a reality for you somewhere in your senior year [reaching 1,000],’” recalled Kiyota. “Then, after her sophomore year, she increased her point totals so much that at the end of the year, she asked if she could reach the milestone as a junior, and I said, ‘Probably at the end.’ But then this year, she just went on a tear and got it done before the end.”
“For Nina, her freshman year was a COVID restriction year, so we only had one team and she didn’t get a whole lot of minutes,” continued Kiyota. “So, when Mia was originally talking about the milestone, Nina was like, ‘Well, I don’t think I’m ever gonna get that because freshman year was kind of a wash, only 48 points, so that milestone is just a dream for me.’ But she went on a scoring tear to start this season, and midway through, she had two back-to-back 31-point games, and I told her, ‘This is going to happen, Nina. You and Mia are our offense right now and if you really want this, it can happen.’”
And it just so happened for both of them in the same game.