GAME NOTES: A pair of under-performing West Coast Conference squads will meet up at the Leavey Center on Thursday night, as the Santa Clara Broncos play host to the Pacific Tigers.
Pacific has been solid this season in terms of its overall record, going 14-11, but in the WCC things have not gone so smoothly, as it owns just a 5-9 league ledger. The Tigers had been on the upswing with wins in three of their previous four prior to their latest bout, which they lost at home to San Diego last Saturday, 70-55
Santa Clara's struggles have been more consistent, as its poor WCC record (4-10) is backed up by an equally disappointing overall mark (11-16). The Broncos are in a prolonged slide with losses in eight of their last nine, including a 69-63 home setback to San Francisco on Saturday.
In the first meeting this season back on Jan. 11, Pacific won on its home floor, 80-68, although Santa Clara still leads the all-time series by an 89-42 count.
The Tigers fell flat from the very start of their latest game, getting down by 21 points at the half to San Diego and never sniffing the lead the rest of the way, as they were outshot from the field, 48.8 percent to 38.3 percent, and outrebounded, 36-22. They were also just 3-of-15 shooting from 3-point range. Tony Gill led the way with 16 points on 5-of-5 from the field and 5-of-6 at the free-throw line. Sama Taku was also impressive with 15 points, although the three other starters, Khalil Kelley, Trevin Harris and Andrew Bock, combined to shoot just 3-of-17 from the floor.
Scoring points usually isn't a problem for Pacific, as it shoots 45.1 percent from the field for 75.3 ppg, but its downfall has come in allowing its opponents to outpace it in both categories (.458, 75.5 ppg). Bock puts up a team-best 12.1 ppg, Gill mans the paint with 11.7 ppg and 6.0 rpg and Taku adds 11.4 ppg. Rounding out the balanced squad are Ross Rivera, T.J. Wallace and Trevin Harris, who net between 7.2 and 8.7 ppg.
The Broncos battled tight with USF for most of the game over the weekend and even tied the contest at 58 with under five minutes to play following a Jared Brownridge bucket, but the Dons proceeded to rip off six straight points to pull away for good. They outshot USF from the field, 40 percent to 37.5 percent, but they lost the rebounding battle, 43-36, and were outscored at the free-throw line, 21-7. Brandon Clark scored 15 points to lead the way, Brownridge was right on his tail with 14 points and Evan Roquemore and Jalen Richard put up 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Santa Clara shoots just 42.6 percent from the field this season, compared to a lofty 46.2 percent for its opponents, but it still manages to cling to a small +0.2 scoring margin thanks to its prowess from beyond the arc (7.5 3-poitners per game at a 36.9 percent clip) and its +1.9 turnover margin. Clark (17.1 ppg) and Brownridge (16.8 ppg) have been neck-and-neck for the scoring lead all season long, combining to drain 119 3-pointers. Roquemore rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.6 ppg.
Santa Clara's struggles this season have not been exempt on its home floor (4-6), but with both teams sliding into this matchup, figure for the home crowd to give the Broncos a boost down the stretch.
Game Date and Time