Feb. 14, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's basketball team will take a break from West Coast Conference action this Saturday when it travels to the islands of Hawai'i for a game against the Rainbow Warriors of the University of Hawai'i.
Click here to check out Santa Clara's men's hoops history in Hawai'i.
The Broncos were assigned to make the 2,393 mile trek to Hawai'i as a result of their participation in the larger BracketBusters presented by eBay pool. Hawai'i is expected to make a return appearance at the Leavey Center next season as part of the event's agreement.
The travel party will depart San Francisco International Airport on United Airlines Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (pacific) and will arrive in Honolulu at 4 p.m. (local).
The Broncos enter Saturday's contest with a 9-14 overall record following a hard-fought 76-69 overtime loss to Saint Mary's College Monday night at the Leavey Center. Senior forward Travis Niesen led all scorers with 20 points and made a three-point basket with :02 seconds left in regulation to tie the game.
Niesen, a native of Mission Viejo, Calif., leads Santa Clara and ranks third in the West Coast Conference in scoring with an 18.8 per game average. He suffered a cut over his lip that required four stitches during the first half of Monday's game but scored 18 of his 20 points in after halftime.
Junior center Sean Denison registered the first double-double of his career with a 14-point, 12-rebound effort against the Gaels. He missed 11 games due to a stress reaction in his right foot and after suffering an ankle sprain in the first minute at Loyola Marymount. The Nelson, B.C. native is shooting .485 from the field and averages 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Sophomore point guard Brody Angley leads the WCC in steals with an average of 2.0 per game and assist-turnover ratio at plus-1.86. The Redding, Calif. native is also second in the league in assists with 5.17 per game. He is looking be become the second-straight Bronco to lead the league in steals and the first since Steve Nash in 1995 to finish at the top of the WCC in assists.
As a team, Santa Clara limiting opponents to a league-low .403 shooting from the field and is second in the WCC in scoring defense at 67.5. The Broncos are blocking 3.75 shots per game, which is second in the WCC and the highest average in head coach Dick Davey's 14 seasons.
Hawai'i enters the game with a 13-9 overall record and also has an accomplished defensive-oriented squad. The Rainbow Warriors lead the Western Athletic Conference in field goal defense at .406 and block 5.86 shots per game.
Senior Julian Sensley ranks eight in the WAC and leads Hawai'i in scoring with a 17.3 points per game average. He is playing a league-high 36.38 minutes per game and rates among the league leaders in steals, assists, field goal percentage and rebounding.
Junior Ahmet Gueye is the team's rebounding leader, ranking seventh in the WAC with an 8.7 average. He also leads the league and ranks 25th nationally in blocked shots with 2.50 per game.
Santa Clara owns a 20-4 series record against the Rainbow Warriors since the first meeting between the two schools in 1952.
In 2003 the two teams met in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational in Lahaina with Hawai'i earning a come-from-behind 56-43 victory. Niesen, Brandon Rohe and Sean Denison are the only active Broncos to see action in that game and combined for a total of eight points and seven rebounds. For Hawai'i, Sensley, Milos Zivanovic and Bobby Nash saw action against the Broncos and combined for 12 points, nine boards.
Santa Clara has played in Hawai'i on 11 previous occasions, dating back to their first trek to the islands in the 1952. That season, head coach Bob Feerick led his eventual NCAA Final Four team to the first of three-straight appearances in Honolulu. The Broncos also played in Honolulu in 1953, 1954, 1968, 1973, 1986 and 1997 and in Hilo in 1999. In addition, Santa Clara played in Lahaina, Maui in 1990, 1995 and 2003.
There were 100 Division I institutions in the original pool and 26 teams were selected to participate in the BracketBusters presented by eBay on Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18. The remaining 74 squads have been assigned non-conference games.
Following Saturday's game, the team will return on Sunday and play a Monday night WCC game against Bay Area rival San Francisco. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Bay Area live at 7 p.m.