Men’s Basketball can’t erase 25-point deficit against San Francisco
The Santa Clara
February 16, 2017
Santa Clara suffered a discouraging 61- 58 loss last week at the University of San Francisco before taking care of business against the University of Pacific with an easy 64-47 victory. The win against Pacific was expected; the loss to San Francisco stings.
After trailing the Dons by 25, the Broncos fought back to bring the score within a single point but could not complete the comeback. Starting at 8:30 left in the second half, senior Jared Brownridge scored ten consecutive points to begin the Broncos’ run. Sophomore KJ Feagin hit a three-pointer that cut the score to 59-58 with 1:15 to play in the game, but that’s as close as they came.
“We just came out really flat,” Feagin said. “We weren’t prepared to play and they jumped on us and got hot.”
Feagin himself came ready to play, as he tied a career-high 26 points. But for the rest of the team, it was a tale of two halves for Santa Clara.
“The first half was one of our worst halves this year,” said Brownridge, who tallied 15 points and five rebounds. “In the second half, we picked it up and played with effort like we were supposed to. But when you get down that deep, there’s no reason for you to win at that point.”
Barring disaster for either team, a rematch of Dons and Broncos will most likely be the 4-seed vs. 5-seed contest in the conference tournament in March. Santa Clara is not worried about another slow start, however.
“I don’t think that will ever happen again, the way we came out,” Feagin said. “We fixed that right after halftime, as you can see by the effort we came out with in the second half.”
The Broncos and Dons both have similar remaining schedules: three games where they are the favorite and one tough matchup on the road. The Broncos will face a tough challenge when they visit No. 22 Saint Mary’s College in their regular season finale on Feb. 25 and the Dons visit No. 1 Gonzaga University on Thursday, Feb. 16.
Both teams are expected to go 3-1 but nothing is certain in the West Coast Conference.
“No game is easy in this conference,” Brownridge said. “Every team we play is a great opponent, and we don’t take any team lightly.”
To overtake San Francisco for the four seed in the WCC tournament, the Broncos will need to win one more game than the Dons over these next four, as the Dons own the tiebreaker. The best chance Santa Clara has relies on Loyola Marymount University, who are currently in sixth place, to beat the Dons in Los Angeles on Feb. 23. If the Dons are victorious in that matchup, Santa Clara would then need to beat the nationally-ranked Saint Mary’s Gaels on the road, which is quite the daunting task.
But the Broncos can’t put all their focus on St. Mary’s. They need to be careful to not take the next three matchups as guaranteed victories, even though they’re three of the four worst teams in the WCC. Any trace of complacency could ruin their chance of regaining the four-seed.
“We have to treat every game like it’s a championship game, as it’s the most important game that day,” Feagin said. “We have some quality opponents coming up that can easily beat us if we come out and treat it as an easy game.”
Despite the tough loss, the team knows they are capable of competing with the top teams in their conference as long as they can play 40 minutes of their best basketball.
“On the offensive end, we need to keep our pace that we’ve been playing with,” Brownridge said. “We’re best when we get out in transition, so the better we are with that, the better the game will go.”
The Broncos still have to work on some aspects of the game, but look for them to improve their mental toughness and stay engaged down the stretch of the regular season. Santa Clara will host Pepperdine University on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. and University of San Diego on Feb. 18 at 8 p.m
Contact Bo Kendall at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.