Jan. 31, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's basketball team begins the second half of the West Coast Conference schedule this week with its annual trek to the Northwest to play road games at Portland and Gonzaga.
The Broncos play Portland Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the Chiles Center then travel to Spokane, Wash. for a Saturday afternoon game at Gonzaga. Tickets to the Portland game are available by calling 503/943-7525 or by clicking here. Saturday's 3 p.m. contest at Gonzaga is sold out.
Santa Clara enters the second half of the league season with a 12-10 overall record, a 5-2 mark in WCC games and in a tied for second-place in the conference standings with Gonzaga. Both teams are one game behind league-leading Saint Mary's and one game ahead of San Francisco in the league table.
The Broncos have won five of their last six games and are just six points from being undefeated in league competition. SCU lost a narrow 91-87 decision to then 11th-ranked Gonzaga to open league play, then dropped a 62-20 contest to rival San Francisco on a last-second shot last week.
SCU's 5-2 start equals the second-best for the Broncos under head coach Dick Davey and is the best since posting that same mark in 2000-01. The best start for a Davey-led squad was a 6-1 mark by the 1994-95 squad that finished the season with a 21-7 record and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Junior forward Travis Niesen leads the Broncos in scoring, averaging 15.8 point per game. The Mission Viejo, Calif. native is coming off a 20-points, six-rebound performance last weekend in SCU's 85-73 victory over San Diego. He is shooting .486 from the field and .805 from the free throw line for the Broncos this season.
Senior guards Doron Perkins and Kyle Bailey are the only other Santa Clara players averaging in double figures in scoring. Perkins, an Anchorage, Alaska native, averages 15.1 points per game and is the team leader in rebounding (6.1) and steals (2.2). Bailey, a native of Fairbanks, Alaska, scores at a 13.5 per game clip and is second in the WCC in assists with 4.5 per game.
Portland enters Thursday's game with a 13-9 record and a 2-5 mark in WCC games. The Pilots opened the season winning nine of their first 12 games with the three losses coming against Northwestern, Oregon State and Oregon. Most recently, however, Portland has lost its last three outings and five of its last seven, including a narrow 91-79 decision at Gonzaga that was much closer than the final score indicates.
Junior Eugene "Pooh" Jeter is the team's leading scorer with an average of 16.1 points per game. He also leads the team in assists, handing out 3.4 per contest.