Broncos fall back to Earth after last second OT loss to San Diego
The Santa Clara
February 22, 2017
The Santa Clara men’s basketball team had a historic night against Pepperdine University, scoring the program’s most points in a game since 1993. Santa Clara tied a West Coast Conference record with 22 three-pointers en route to 106 points and a whopping 51-point victory over Pepperdine.
Pepperdine came into the game riding a three-game win streak, including an impressive win over Brigham Young University. However, right from the outset the Waves proved unable to contain Nate Kratch or the outside shooting from the Broncos. The Broncos went into half leading 54-19; the game was never in doubt.
“The start of the game I felt comfortable with my shot,” Kratch said. “During warm-ups shooting felt good and smooth. The guards did a great job finding me. Compared to other games it was just about going at it and not hesitating.”
Kratch finished with a career-high 32 points for Santa Clara, 24 of which came in the first half, and helped the team shoot a scorching 64 percent from the floor for the game. Jared Brownridge and Matt Hauser combined for 21 assists as the Broncos shared the ball very effectively. And playing as the third guard in the starting lineup, KJ Feagin was a perfect 6-6 on the night from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points.
The win moved the Broncos into sole possession of fourth place in the WCC at 9-6, as the University of San Francisco was blown out by Gonzaga.
Going into Saturday’s contest, the Broncos were hoping to stay hot from the field and take care of the University of San Diego, who had lost seven of eight coming into the game. The last time they met, Santa Clara came out on top in a game that was decided by the final possession. The second meeting followed suit, but Santa Clara was on the losing end this time.
With a win, the Broncos had the chance to tie BYU for third place in the conference following the Cougars’ loss to Saint Mary’s. However, the Toreros were not going to let that happen.
San Diego’s defense slowed down Jared Brownridge and the Broncos offense— which finished the night shooting only 38 percent from the field. Brownridge finished with just eight points as the Broncos offense was led by KJ Feagin and Nate Kratch, who finished with 17 points and 14 points respectively.
For the Toreros, Cameron Neubauer had a massive performance, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in his double-double.
But the play of the game for the San Diego came from sophomore guard Tyler Williams who hit the buzzer beater at the end of OT to steal the game from Santa Clara, 60-58.
Williams got the ball in the corner with time running out and dribbled around a failed screen to rise up for a jump shot over Brownridge and sink the game-winner.
“They’re a difficult team to guard and to match up with,” Coach Herb Sendek said. “On the other end, they made it really difficult for us with good defense.”
It was a tough loss for Santa Clara as they couldn’t hit big shots down the stretch and earn what would have been a crucial conference win. Santa Clara moved back into a tie for fourth place in the WCC with San Francisco at 9-7.
With the WCC tournament approaching, Santa Clara closes out its schedule at home against University of Pacific on Senior Night and then travels to take on NCAA Tournament bound Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.
The Broncos will probably split their last two games which will likely land them the fifth seed in the WCC tournament. San Francisco has two winnable games against LMU and Pacific to close out their season, and even if they win only one they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against SCU 2-0.
But if Santa Clara can shoot from outside and get solid performances out of Brownridge, Kratch and Feagin—they are a real threat come tournament time.
Contact Ben Epstein at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.