Feb. 25, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With a conference tournament seeding at stake and the second-largest crowd of the season cheering them on, the Santa Clara University men's basketball team rolled to an inspired 81-70 victory over Loyola Marymount Saturday night in the Leavey Center.
The win gave the Broncos an 11-15 overall record and a 4-9 mark in West Coast Conference play. But, more importantly, losses by Pepperdine and Portland pushed Santa Clara into a tie for sixth-place in the league standings with the Pilots. In the event of a tie with Portland, SCU would claim the sixth seed in next week's league championships due to its two victories over the Pilots this season.
Five Santa Clara players scored in double-figures for the first time against a Division I team this season, led by career highs by sophomore guard Brody Angley and junior center Sean Denison. Angley, a native of Redding, Calif., scored 19 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field, while Denison made six of his 11 shots en route to 18 points. Combined, the duo went 14-for-17 from the free throw line.
Sophomore forward Mitch Henke added 16 points and was just two rebounds and two assists shy of his first career triple-double. He registered a career-high eight assists and eight rebounds and shot 7-for-9 from the field. Brandon Rohe scored 12 and Travis Niesen added 11 and seven rebounds.
As a team, the Broncos shot 51.9 percent from the field and an amazing 70 percent in the second half of the game. SCU also made 21 of its 28 free throw attempts.
LMU, which fell to 11-16 on the season and 8-5 in the WCC, remained in second-place in the league standings. The Lions are one game ahead of third-place Saint Mary's, their opponent on Monday night in Moraga.
Junior guard Brandon Worthy led four Lions in double-figures with 14 points. The San Jose, Calif. native, playing in front of a rather large cheering section near the LMU bench, also handed out eight assists and grabbed four rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
Guard Wes Wardrop scored 13 points, forward Matthew Knight chipped-in 12 and guard Jon Ziri added 11 for the Lions, which shot 41.5 percent from the field, including a whopping 53.8 from behind the three-point arc in the first period.
Santa Clara never trailed in the first half and led by nine points with less than five minutes to play in the period. LMU went on a 7-0 run late in the half to cut the lead to just two points at 32-30 with 1:52 remaining. Free throws by Denison and Travis Niesen, combined with baskets by LMU gave the Broncos a narrow 35-34 halftime edge.
LMU was the aggressor to open the second half, scoring two quick baskets to take a three-point lead before Henke's steal and layup cut the lead back to just one point with 18:39 remaining in the game.
The two teams traded the lead five times during the next four minutes before a three-point basket by Angley at the 14:44 mark gave SCU the lead for good.
Keyed by Angley's basket, the Broncos then went on a 16-2 run that pushed their lead to 13 points with 8:23 remaining. LMU cut the lead to single digits twice but could get no closer than eight points. Baskets by Angley and Denison and eight makes out of ten free throw attempts during the last five minutes of the game clinched the win.
Santa Clara returns to action Monday night against Pepperdine in the final home game of the season. The 7 p.m. start will also mark the final home game for Niesen, a Mission Viejo, Calif. native who is one of the top 15 scorer's in school history.