Men’s basketball team gains conference ground
THE SANTA CLARA
January 22, 2014
Despite fighting a nagging finger injury, Brandon Clark has still posted a solid 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists on average per game this season.
“I’ve been struggling with a finger injury but today I played without the tape on my hands,” Clark said. “I think (the slump) was just more of a mindset when I was looking down and seeing the tape on my fingers.”
While his points are slightly lower than last year (16.9), his contributions to the team this season are undisputed.
“I just got tired of people telling me I need to pick it up,” Clark said. “I know what I needed to do.”
And just when Santa Clara needed their senior most on Saturday night versus the University of San Francisco, Clark silenced the doubters as he led the Broncos to an impressive 70-64 win over the Dons.
He led the team in points, rebounds and assists in the game with 23, eight and five respectively.
Both teams entered the contest tied with a 2-4 conference record. Looking to gain ground on the heavyweights of the conference, the winner of Saturday’s game would solidify its position in the middle of the West Coast Conference.
“This game (against USF) is always (competitive) no matter what the records and what the circumstances are,” said Head Coach Kerry Keating.
Clark exploded in the first half, totaling 15 points in the first 20 minutes to help give the Broncos a 39-28 lead at halftime.
“It’s a credit to our staff for sticking with (Clark) and encouraging him to put the time in that he needs to come through and, thankfully, it came through today in a big way,” Keating said.
Santa Clara continued their momentum into the second half extending their lead to as much as 18 points.
“I thought we competed from the beginning and set the tone that we are going to be just as physical as they are,” Keating said. “That’s so important in these league games.”
The Broncos also received helpful contributions from most of the starters. Jared Brownridge had a successful night, scoring 18 points and six rebounds. Guard Denzel Johnson scored three 3-pointers to add to his 11 points on the night.
“It’s all rhythm for me as long as I come in early before the game and get my shots up, I feel comfortable taking a shot at any time,” Johnson said.
Santa Clara shot an incredible 47.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line, hitting 10 threes throughout the course of the game. One of which came from Australian freshman Kai Healy.
“I think that was big for Kai. Coming in, he was not really fresh because he hadn’t been in the game at the time,” Johnson said. “He comes in — hits a big three — and that was huge for us.”
Healy’s 3-pointer was the Broncos’ only field goal in the final 10 minutes of the game as the Dons cut the wide margin to just six points. Several Bronco free throws down the stretch shattered any hopes of a comeback from the Dons as Santa Clara held on to their lead to win the game 70-64.
“We need to carry over this momentum and keep playing for each other because everybody is stepping up right now and finish out conference strong,” Clark said.
The Broncos have two crucial home conference games this week. They host Loyola Marymount University today and Pepperdine University on Saturday.
“(The win’s) big because we’re both fighting for that middle ground right now as we head into the next six games,” Keating said. “Defending home turf is going to be important in this conference to get anything out of it and any momentum we need towards the next game, of course, as we move forward towards March.”
Tipoff for the LMU game is set at 8 p.m.
Contact Nick Redfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.