Feb. 25, 2003
SANTA CLARA - At first glance, Thursday night's West Coast Conference men's basketball game at the Leavey Center between first-place Gonzaga and sixth-place Santa Clara may not appear to have a whole lot of meaning.
Don't tell that to the Broncos, who enter the game with a chance to move up two places in the WCC standings and earn a first-round bye in next week's league tournament. The Broncos have not finished lower than fourth in the WCC since 1994 and an upper division finish would require Dick Davey's squad to win just three games instead of four to earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
Tickets to this week's games are available in advance by calling the SCU Athletic Ticket Office at 408/554-4660 or by clicking here. Fans and students are encouraged to purchase tickets early and to arrive at the Leavey Center well in advance of Thursday game to secure nearby parking and preferred seating.
To avoid Friday's WCC tournament opener, the Broncos must win each of its two games this week against the Bulldogs and Portland and have Pepperdine lose its two games against San Francisco and Saint Mary's. In addition, the Gaels must drop its game against Loyola Marymount on Saturday night.
Santa Clara enters Thursday's game against league-leading Gonzaga with a 13-12 overall record and 4-8 WCC mark following its dramatic 57-56 victory Sunday at Saint Mary's College. The Broncos forced a Saint Mary's turnover in the backcourt with just 6.5 seconds left in the game. Brad Anderson grabbed the loose ball and passed it to his brother, Cord, who layed it in the basket for the game winner with 1.5 seconds on the clock. Brad then stole the inbounds pass and time ran out with the Broncos earning a one-point victory and a third-straight regular season sweep of the Gaels.
Freshman Brandon Rohe leads Santa Clara in scoring with an average of 11.0 points per game, but sophomore guard Bakari Altheimer averaged 17.5 points in SCU's two wins last week to increase his scoring average to 10.3 per game on the year.
Junior center Jim Howell is Santa Clara's rebounding leader with an average of 6.4 per game. Over the last five games, Howell has averaged 13.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. The Newport, Ore. native is also shooting a team-high .557 from the field.
Gonzaga enters Thursday's game with a 20-7 record and sits in first-place in the WCC with a 10-2 mark, one game ahead of second-place San Diego. The Bulldogs have three players who score in double figures, led by junior guard Blake Stepp's 18.1 points per game. Sophomore center Ronny Turiaf scores 15.7 points per game, largely off the bench, and junior center Cory Violette averages 11.7 points and is second in the WCC with a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game.
Santa Clara has enjoyed home court success against Gonzaga, winning two of the last three matchups against the Bulldogs at the Leavey Center. After notching an 81-70 victory in 2000 and an 84-71 win in 2001, SCU could not take advantage of guard Kyle Bailey's career-high 30-point effort and dropped last year's contest by an 84-69 margin.
Following Thursday's game against Gonzaga, Santa Clara returns to the Leavey Center for the final time this season for a Saturday night matchup against Portland. Prior to the 7 p.m. tipoff, the team will recognize the contributions of senior twins Brad and Cord Anderson, who will be taking the court for the final time during their Bronco careers.
In honor of the twin brothers from Honolulu, all fans wearing a Hawaiian shirt will receive admission for just $2.