Men’s basketball grabs win in wake of conference loss
THE SANTA CLARA
January 15, 2015
The men’s basketball team hopped on a plane and jetted up to the Northwest to face off against conference rival Gonzaga University. After losing their previous two games to the Bulldogs by a total of four points, the Broncos were ready to redeem themselves.
There was no lack of action in McCarthey Center on Saturday night, with the Broncos putting up a fight against the No. 6-ranked team in the country. With about six minutes left in the first half, the Broncos narrowed Gonzaga’s lead down to one point, the closest margin of the game.
However, the Zags responded effectively, outscoring the Broncos 14-2 for the rest of the half. Though Gonzaga was up by 13 points at the half, a comeback for the Broncos was not out of the question.
Unfortunately, the game came down to numbers, and with Gonzaga shooting 53.4 percent, Santa Clara was unable to catch up, shooting only 35.2 percent.
Santa Clara fell to 7-10 overall and 1-4 in West Coast Conference play, while Gonzaga remained undefeated in WCC play at 5-0 and improved to 16-1 overall. Gonzaga proved once again to be the top team in the conference when it comes to turnovers, converting them into 28 points overall, and earning 41 rebounds compared to Santa Clara’s 26.
Freshman Matt Hubbard stepped up for the Broncos, scoring a career high of 15 points.
Hubbard grew up just outside of Spokane in a town called Colville, and there were almost 60 fans in the crowd on Sunday supporting him, which no doubt helped boost the freshman starter’s morale.
“It felt really good to see all my friends and family there, and hearing them before the game when I got announced,” said Hubbard.
Scoring five three-point shots out of nine tries was also a career-high for Hubbard, who led the Broncos in points for the whole game.
As any WCC fan or player would know, the Bulldogs have a strong fan base, one that Hubbard is familiar with, growing up outside of Spokane.
“It definitely motivated me,” said Hubbard. “Growing up watching them, being a fan of theirs, I wanted to come in and give my best game and try and beat them.”
Coach Kerry Keating has nothing but high hopes for Hubbard.
“He’s starting to get more consistent with his efforts,” he said. “As a freshman, it takes some time and some experience, but he’s starting to come to that point.”
Hubbard’s efforts have paid off in the last two games for the Broncos. Sophomore Jared Brownridge and senior Denzel Johnson were also instrumental for the Bronco offense against Gonzaga, putting up 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The opportunity to get back on the right track came Tuesday night when Santa Clara faced St. Katherine College at home in the Leavey Center. The Broncos maintained a consistent lead throughout the game, and although St. Katherine was able to minimize the gap at some points, the Santa Clara offense kept pushing.
At the end of the first half, the Broncos led 33-23.
Possession went relatively back and forth between the two teams, but the Broncos held off the Firebirds, who never came within more than six points of taking the lead in the second half.
Senior Brandon Clark led the Broncos with 22 points, while Brownridge put up 16 points with Hubbard not far behind with 12 points.
Santa Clara led Saint Katherine’s at the end of full time 77-63, improving to 8-10 overall.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, they were forced to face Gonzaga and Saint Katherine’s missing one of their front-line players, senior Yannick Atanga, who remains out indefinitely with an ACL tear.
Redshirt freshman Emmanuel Ndumanya is just recently returning from a four-month hiatus due to a left foot injury, and did not start against either team.
Keating acknowledged the myriad of injuries that have plagued Santa Clara, but stated that they have proven to be a time to grow as a team.
“We’ve had to play some guys out of position and some guys in different roles than we maybe anticipated, but we have to give credit to our guys on making that adjustment and learning on the fly,” he said.
Hubbard is already looking ahead after the win against Saint Katherine’s.
“Our next game is going to be a really physical one against (University of San Francisco), we’re in the same position they are in the league,” he said.
In other words, it is an important win for Santa Clara. The Broncos play the Dons at home this Saturday at 3 p.m.
Contact Alli Kleppe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.