Men’s basketball off to .500 start in conference play
THE SANTA CLARA
January 9, 2014
Santa Clara’s backcourt continues to impress, but the squad ended up splitting its first conference homestand of the season.
After falling to Pepperdine University 70-61 on Thursday, the Broncos reversed their ways two days later and held off Loyola Marymount University 86-81 in overtime.
Santa Clara Head Coach Kerry Keating had mixed feelings about the team’s performance last week.
“I mean it balances itself out,” said Keating, in regards to splitting the homestand.
Although the team lost to Pepperdine, Keating was pleased with how the team regrouped and took care of business against LMU in a back-and-forth type of game, characterized by 13 ties and 17 lead changes.
After the teams went into halftime tied at 35, senior Evan Roquemore drained two threes in the opening moments of the second to put the Broncos up early.
However, LMU’s Anthony Ireland, the West Coast Conference’s active leading scorer with over 1,800 career points, kept the Lions in the game throughout. The senior drove to the hole and finished multiple times, or used his vision to find open teammates for easy scores.
“He is one of the best players in the conference,” said Santa Clara guard Brandon Clark. “He is one of the best players at creating a shot for himself.”
Santa Clara found its largest lead at 53-46 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game after two more threes found the bottom of the net. But a subsequent tip-in and jump shot by the Lions closed the deficit once again.
Every time the Broncos attempted to increase their advantage, LMU responded.
With just under a minute to go and the score tied, the Lions had an opportunity to take the lead, but -after the ball was tipped out of bounds by Santa Clara, the Broncos forced a five-second call on the following LMU inbounds play to regain possession.
“That’s a big turnover to give us a chance,” said Keating. “It takes the ball out of their hands. They don’t get a shot up. We get a chance to come down and score and take the lead.”
With 29 ticks left on the clock, Clark drove to the basket and drew a foul. He hit two free throws to give the Broncos a two-point lead. But none other than Ireland, who had a game-high 34 points, tied the score with 12.1 seconds left after he hit a shot from the elbow.
Santa Clara had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but Roquemore’s shot attempt from the corner was blocked as time expired. Tied at 70, the game went into overtime.
In the extra session, Santa Clara’s backcourt took over early. Freshman Jared Brownridge, who had a career and team-high 29 points, nailed a deep three. Clark added two free throws and Brownridge later kissed the ball off the glass to give the Broncos a 77-70 lead.
Ireland, scoring 10 of LMU’s 11 overtime points, managed to cut the lead slightly, but Santa Clara hit critical free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.
“We showed some resilience,” said Roquemore. “We made plays when they needed to be made.”
Santa Clara’s free-throw shooting and LMU’s three-point shooting proved to be the story of the game. Santa Clara made 24 of its 27 attempts from the stripe while the Lions came up dry on all seven of their shots from deep.
Two days prior to the LMU game, the Broncos challenged the Waves from Pepperdine.
Once the Broncos settled in after giving up two quick layups and a jump shot, the backcourt trio of Roquemore, Clark and Brownridge found their groove and kept the Broncos in the game. The three guards combined for 24 of the team’s 33 first-half points.
“The fact that we can all shoot and that we are all willing to make the extra pass because of the confidence we have in each other … allows us to get out on breaks and score against teams in bunches,” said Brownridge.
The Broncos went on a run of their own in the second half, capped off by freshman Jalen Richard’s layup, to tie the game at 55 with 8:29 to go.
However, Santa Clara went cold from the field in the final minutes and Pepperdine walked away with the victory.
The Broncos hit the road for their next two games beginning on Jan. 9.
Contact Brendan Weber at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.