Denison's Strong Second Half Helps Broncos Hold Off Saint Mary's, 76-69

Jan. 7, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Sean Denison made all eight of his field-goal tries and scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half, leading Santa Clara past Saint Mary's 76-69 on Saturday night in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Scott Dougherty added 13 points as Santa Clara snapped a four-game losing streak to its Bay Area rival. John Bryant, Santa Clara's 6-foot-10 sophomore, had 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks after being held to one rebound in a 78-48 loss to No. 20 Air Force on Dec. 29 in the Cable Car Classic hosted by the Broncos.

Denison scored four straight points in an 11-3 run midway through the second half that gave Santa Clara a 64-54 lead with 7 minutes left. Longtime Broncos coach Dick Davey moved past former Gonzaga coach Dan Fitzgerald into second place on the WCC all-time list with 113 wins.

Brett Collins scored 19 points with three 3-pointers and Wayne Hunter had 12 points for the Gaels, who shot 8-for-20 from 3-point range.

Brody Angley added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists and Danny Pariseau dished out seven assists and grabbed key rebounds late for the Broncos (11-5, 1-0 WCC), who have won four of their last five conference openers.

Santa Clara came in holding opponents to a WCC-low 62.5 points per game, and the Broncos picked up the pressure on defense over the final 20 minutes. The Gaels also missed key free throws down the stretch.

Saint Mary's (8-9, 0-1) had won two straight after a four-game losing streak during their tough non-conference schedule.

The Gaels won all three meetings last year, eliminating the Broncos from the WCC tournament in the quarterfinals with a 76-72 overtime win last March - the fourth time in five years Saint Mary's had done so. The Gaels beat the Broncos in the previous two games played at Santa Clara's Leavey Center.

Saint Mary's started the game 0-for-9 before John Winston bounced in a 14-footer at 15:18. The Gaels missed 14 of their first 16 shots. But after Bryant's three-point play for the Broncos at 11:20, the Gaels used a 15-0 run and held Santa Clara scoreless for nearly 4 minutes. The Broncos answered with a 7-0 run of their own.

Saint Mary's shot 31 percent in the first half but hit six 3-pointers for a 36-34 lead at the break after Angley hit a long jumper at the buzzer.