Broncos snag a three-point victory against a tough conference foe
THE SANTA CLARA
January 8, 2014
Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr was in attendance Saturday night to watch Santa Clara earn their second conference win of the season over University of San Diego.
Both teams entered the game 1-2 in the West Coast Conference, with San Diego holding the better overall record of 8-7. Santa Clara was 6-8 before Saturday’s matchup.
“We never really had a comfort zone because they did such a good job on our guards,” said Head Coach Kerry Keating.
The Broncos struggled to contain USD guards Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson as both finished the first half with a combined 22 of the Toreros’ 29 points.
San Diego continued their momentum into the second half, taking the lead early on and holding it for just under 14 minutes with their biggest lead being no more than six points.
The Broncos fought back late and finally tied the game up with four minutes left thanks to quality minutes from freshman Matt Hubbard, who scored 9 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the second half and 12 points and 11 rebounds for the game, his first career double-double.
“We were down and I knew we needed a spark right then and so I got going,” Hubbard said. “It’s what we needed to win.”
With nearly a minute left, Santa Clara trailed by a single point until senior Brandon Clark was fouled and sent to the free throw line. Two clutch free throws later the Broncos retook the lead 57-56.
Santa Clara caught a big break on the next possession though when Torero Chris Sarbaugh was fouled but missed the first free throw of a one-and-one, allowing the Broncos to get the ensuing rebound. Clark was then fouled again and made two more free throws to nearly put the game away.
USD missed their last desperation three-point shot to end the game 59-56 in favor of Santa Clara.
“We played hard, got the stops that we needed and we converted on the other end, it was a great team win,” Hubbard said.
The younger players are stepping up. Sophomore Nate Kratch had a big game leading the team in scoring with 14 and grabbing the second-most rebounds with eight. Both Jarvis Pugh and Jalen Richard also had solid nights and contributed on both ends of the court to the win.
“Credit to Matt (Hubbard) and Nate (Kratch) stepping up scoring and rebounding,” Keating said. “Even bigger credit to Jarvis (Pugh) and Jalen (Richard) having 34 minutes combined off the bench and eight rebounds.”
Richard stepped up when the team needed it most.
“I know my teammates count on me to play hard so that’s what I did,” Richard said.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this year has been Matt Hubbard. In his first season, Hubbard stepped up massively and is third on the team in scoring, averaging 8.1 points and second in rebounding, averaging 5.3.
Hubbard was thrust into the starting lineup in just the third game of the season after would-be starter Yannick Atanga tore his ACL early on.
“We try to explain to these young guys that the opportunities are going to present themselves,” Keating said. “You just don’t know when and you have to be prepared to be ready.”
Clark added to his impressive season averages by contributing 13 points and four assists. The senior has been having a stellar final season, averaging 15.7 points per game, which places him sixth in the WCC, and just over four assists per game.
Santa Clara now sits in fifth place in the WCC with a 2-2 conference record behind heavyweights Saint Mary’s College, Gonzaga University, Brigham Young University and Pepperdine University.
For the Broncos, the strategy going forward will be to continue beating the lower teams in the conference. Picking up a win in their next game at University of Portland is critical, especially given their following game on the road at No. 6-ranked Gonzaga.
Santa Clara tips off at Portland this Thursday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.
Contact Nick Redfield at nredfield@scu. edu.