Santa Clara on a roll heading into a show-down with Gonzaga
THE SANTA CLARA
January 19, 2017
The Santa Clara men’s basketball team picked up two crucial wins over the University of San Diego and Pepperdine University last weekend before their showdown against Gonzaga University.
Heading into their matchup against San Diego, the Broncos were 2-2 in the conference and looking to get back in the win column. Santa Clara started strong behind conference standout Jared Brownridge, who finished with 20 points. But San Diego forward Brett Bailey and guard Olin Carter III kept the Toreros in the game in the first half.
Bailey and Carter continued to eat away at the Broncos lead in the second half, and eventually pulled the Toreros ahead around the six minute mark. However, turnovers and poor free throw shooting plagued the Toreros all game and allowed the Broncos to regain the lead on a Brownridge lay-up with just over a minute left.
After two missed free throws by San Diego’s Bailey, Santa Clara missed their chance to put away the same when Brownridge had his layup blocked. But the Broncos sealed the 59-57 win when Nate Kratch held San Diego to a low percentage three-pointer that fell short. San Diego thought they still managed to tie the game though on a buzzer beater by Bailey, but a lengthy video review showed he was a split second too late.
The backcourt play was strong for the Broncos, with KJ Feagin putting up one of his best games of the season. Feagin finished with 19 points and five assists, to go along with strong performances from Brownridge and Hauser.
“I think we really try to take the reins of the team and get these guys motivated to go,” Hauser said. “We lead the way to show these guys that we can win games and be a contender for the WCC.”
Next up for the Broncos was a televised road game at struggling Pepperdine. Going into this year, Pepperdine was supposed to finish near the top of the conference, but have been decimated with injuries.
The first half was not kind to regional viewers, as poor shooting and turnovers riddled it sloppy.
The stagnant Broncos offense was settling for outside shots that were not falling, and managed only a one point half-time lead over a depleted Pepperdine team.
“The first half was a little shaky. I think we were tired because of the last game that we had on Thursday against USD, but I knew that I had to stay confident in my teammates and my coaches had confidence in me,” Brownridge said. “In the second half we kind of got rejuvenated, got our minds right and came back out and had a great second half.”
Brownridge took over and was on fire from outside in the second half, finishing with 30 points and shooting 7-13 from beyond the arc.
Hauser was excellent as well, hitting some big outside shots and penetrating into the lane at will to dish to his shooters. Santa Clara wore down Pepperdine in the second half and finished out the game strong to take the win, 75-61.
The win puts a resurgent Santa Clara over .500 at 10-9, good for fourth in the conference.
Santa Clara will face its toughest opponent of the season at home on Thursday, the Gonzaga Bulldogs – who are the fourth best team in the nation.
“Our preparation is the same for each and every game that we play,” Coach Herb Sendek said. “We’re all in.”
All eyes will be on the rivalry matchup between Gonzaga and Santa Clara at 8 p.m. in the Leavey Center and televised on ESPNU.
Contact Ben Epstein at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.