Broncos continue to improve under Coach Herb Sendek
THE SANTA CLARA
January 26, 2017
Trailing by two with less than three seconds left on the clock, Jared Brownridge hit a step-back, contested three-pointer that sent the Leavey Center berserk and secured Santa Clara a 64-63 victory over Loyola Marymount University.
“I didn’t know (the shot) was (going) in,” Brownridge said. “But I had full confidence in myself and I know my teammates did as well.”
Brownridge finished the game with 25 points, three rebounds and four assists.
“(Jared) has this even keel about him. He doesn’t get too high; he doesn’t get too low and I just stand in awe of people like that,” said Head Coach Herb Sendek. “That shot that (he) hit probably epitomizes what he’s meant to this program and the kind of career he has.”
LMU battled Santa Clara close all game. The Broncos largest lead was a mere six points; LMU’s was two. Brownridge’s shot deservingly warrants much attention, but this was a complete team win. Five Broncos shot at least 50 percent from the field and Santa Clara’s defense held LMU scoreless in the final minute and forty-nine seconds.
“Right now, this game maybe goes down as the most beautiful I’ve ever seen,” Coach Sendek said. “Now Monday when we address our warts and look at the film, you know I may have a different commentary. But right now, mid afternoon on Saturday, it doesn’t get any better.”
The Broncos look like an entirely different team with Sendek at the helm. They’re sharing the ball and keeping up the defensive intensity. Santa Clara scored 24 baskets on Saturday; 19 came off assists.
The victory over LMU gave Santa Clara their 11th win of the season and kept them in fourth place in the West Coast Conference. The Broncos have already matched their win total from last year—and there’s 10 games left on the schedule. There’s still plenty of work to be done; nobody on the team would deny it. Thursday’s 88-57 loss against Gonzaga University showed the gap between Santa Clara and college basketball’s elite.
The Broncos kept it somewhat close in the first half and cut Gonzaga’s lead to 13 early in the second, but Gonzaga was never in real danger of losing the game. Santa Clara had trouble handling the size of the Bulldogs. Przemek Karnowski (7’1”) went 6-7 from the field to lead Gonzaga with 19 points and Zach Collins (7’0”) finished with 16 points.
Brownridge led all scorers with 23 points, but he was essentially Santa Clara’s only source of offense for much of the game. With just over 13 minutes to play, Brownridge had 23 of Santa Clara’s 39 points.
“(Gonzaga’s) a really talented group,” Coach Sendek said. “You know, they have all the pieces.”
Gonzaga’s ranked fourth in the nation and is the only remaining undefeated team in Division-I. Of course it’s never good to lose by 31 on your home court, but it’s not discouraging either. Gonzaga was supposed to win that game; anyone with a grip on reality knew that. The way Santa Clara rebounded with the gutsy win over LMU is much more indicative of this team and their season so far.
“We’re really getting better,” Sendek said. “We’re such a different team than we were at the end of December, let alone the beginning of the year.”
Santa Clara will have its hands full this week when they welcome Brigham Young University and St. Mary’s College to town. Brigham Young has yet to lose to Santa Clara since joining the WCC and St. Mary’s ranks 21st in the country.
Led by 6’10” forward Eric Mika, who’s averaging 20.4 points per game, BYU ranks 20th in the country in offense. BYU’s weakness is their defense, so expect a high-scoring contest on Jan. 26. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. and the game will be on ESPNU.
Saturday’s game should look a lot different. Saint Mary’s prides itself on defense, as the Gaels have allowed the second fewest points in the nation. The game will start at 8 p.m. on Jan. 28.
Both BYU and St. Mary’s sit atop the Broncos in the standings; it will be a tall order for Santa Clara to take down either team, let alone both. But they play the games for a reason. College basketball is known for its upsets and there could very well be two this week at the Leavey Center.
Contact Andrew Slap at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.