Record crowd at Leavey Center can’t lift home team to a victory
January 31, 2019
The Santa Clara Broncos embarked on a three-game homestand with a devastating loss of 98-39 to No. 4 Gonzaga on Jan. 24.
Despite the blowout, there were some highlights for Santa Clara. Sophomore forward Josip Vrankic scored 12 points and had the high of six rebounds for the Broncos. The team also held Gonzaga to 51 percent shooting from the field.
This was Gonzaga’s 27th-straight conference road win, a new NCAA record. Gonzaga dominated the game from the initial buzzer, opening the game with 14 unanswered points and taking a commanding 53-17 lead in the first half. Bulldogs point guard Josh Perkins kept his team’s momentum going throughout the second half, finishing with 18 points and eight assists.
The last time the two teams met on Jan. 5, Gonzaga rolled past the Broncos with a 91-48 win. The Broncos did hold Gonzaga’s Perkins, the team’s lead scorer, to six points and stopped Gonzaga from connecting from long range. The Zags were only five for 19 from the 3-point line.
While the most recent victory for the Bulldogs may have been a blowout, Santa Clara’s high number of fans in attendance was a win for the university.
Over 5,000 fans filled Leavey Center to welcome the Bulldogs to the 93rd meeting between the two teams. This was a record number, breaking the previous high of 5,092 attendees back in 1999.
“The support we had from the community and student body was amazing,” Vrankic said. “There was for sure a lot of emotion and all we could say is thank you for the tremendous support.”
Many fans stayed until the end despite the final score, a possible testament to the growing athletic culture at Santa Clara.
Cultivating a strong fanbase for athletic events has been a challenge for the athletic department in the past, but last Thursday’s game proved Broncos can show up and support their team no matter the score.
Despite Gonzaga’s early lead, Santa Clara fans remained standing and cheering throughout the entire game.
“Students used to leave during halftime even if the game was close, you couldn’t pay them to stick around. The loyalty last night was incredible,” tweeted Joey Berriatua, an alumni cross country runner, the following day.
The Ruff Riders, Santa Clara’s student section, were in full form with hundreds of students dressed in red and white, some of whom painted “Let’s Go Broncos” on their chests and cheered loudly for the team. Even with just over five minutes on the clock in the second half and the Broncos down by 56 points, the Ruff Riders stayed until the end, proudly representing Santa Clara.
The Broncos are now No. 8 in the WCC standings and will host University of Portland next Saturday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.
Contact Lacey Yahnke at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.