Basketball Clinches CIT Championship Berth with 17-point win at SMU
What a welcome back to his home state of Texas! Houston native Kevin Foster scored 35 points, including five threes and Troy Payne added 15 to help Santa Clara to a 72-55 victory over host SMU. Santa Clara moves to 23-14 and SMU is 20-15. It is just the third time in school history Santa Clara has won 23+ games in a season and the first time since 1969-70. It has won four post-season games for the first time in school history.
The Broncos advance to the final to be played on Wed., March 30 at the winner of Iona-East Tennessee State game to be played tomorrow at Noon Eastern (check back at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com for updated information Saturday afternoon). The game will be shown on national tv.
"The team has really grown this season, especially in this post-season run. Kevin had 35 points, including hitting 8 of 10 twos, which is great for him. As good as he has played, we know he can be even better the next two years and that says something. He is a real competitor," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating.
Mustangs coach Matt Doherty is happy not to deal with Foster again. "I've been doing this for 20 years, and I can't remember anyone being that good," Doherty said. "He's an unbelievable shooter. I don't know how we could've guarded him any better."
Santa Clara shot 46.6 percent (27 of 58) from the field, including 26.1 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 23). The Broncos collected 43 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block. They shot 66.7 percent from the free throw line (12 of 18) with nine turnovers. SMU shot 35.3 percent (18 of 51) from the field, including 32.1 percent from beyond the arc (9 of 28). The Mustangs collected 31 rebounds, 11 assists, seven steals and one block. They shot 58.8 percent from the free throw line (10 of 17) with nine turnovers.
Foster's 35 points were scored on 5 of 13 from the three and 4 of 7 from the free throw line, plus 8 of 10 from inside (13 of 23). The 137 threes this season ties him at No. 11 in the NCAA in a single season with Dennis Scott (Georgia Tech, 1990), Demon Brown (Charlotte 2003) and Will Willington (Marist, 2007).
On 8 of 10 from inside the three "They were forcing me to drive right so I just took what the defense gave me - they were giving me an open lane - and I took it," said Foster. On the team's run in the post-season "We just don't want the season to end. We are learning so much each other and the game of basketball - playing this time of year is really big. The funnest part is winning the games. It's always fun to win. This is a great experience for all of us."
Payne was a perfect 6 of 6 from the field with three of three from the free throw line, scoring 15 with eight rebounds. Dowdell added seven points and five rebounds. Roquemore, who scored just two free throws in the last minute, had only two points after scoring 30 in the win at USF.
"It was a perfect night," said Payne with a big smile. "We are just trying to win - we aren't ready to go home yet and the only way to do that is to win. Whatever it takes is what I am going to do. They ran the same plays so it was about knowing their personal and we played tough defense. It was a battle in there. Really proud of Kevin."
SMU was led by Robert Nyakundi who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jeremia Samarrippas scored 13 points. Papa Dia, the team's leading scorer went out mid-way through the first half with an injury and he finished with four points and five rebounds.
"I was sad to see Papa Dia finish his career like that. We knew he was a load inside and was such a big part of their offense," said Dowdell. "We knew he was an all-conference player and it's sad to see his career end like that. We played really hard and I continue to be really proud of these guys."
SMU started the game on a 5-0 run before Trasolini knocked one down inside at 18:20. Payne followed with a four-footer at 17:04, but SMU responded with a 4-0 run before Foster hit a jumper for his first points of the game at 15:37 and then he hit another in the lane at 14:32.
Foster hit his first three at 13:10 to give the Broncos an 11-10 lead, but SMU grabbed it back with a three by Nyakundi, his second. Foster hit a free throw at 12:28 to pull within one.
Raymond Cowels III crushed a three at 11:40 to put SCU up 15-13. SMU went on an 8-0 run over the next five minutes when Foster scored a basket at 6:45. Samarrippas hit a three at 6:00 to put SMU up 26-17. Payne's basket at 5:35 and then Harrison's dunk made it 26-21 SMU at 4:55.
Foster's three, his 134th of the year, made it 27-24 SMU at 4:07. Timeout Mustangs. Mangrum knocked down a three at 3:42 to put SMU up six. Payne scored on a three-point play at 1:51.
Nyakundi picked up his second foul of the half, a blocking foul on Foster, and he made both, 30-29 SMU. Both teams missed the front of a free throw opportunity and then Foster sank his 18th point of the game to put SCU up 32-30 at :31.2 – the lead at halftime.
In the first half Santa Clara shot 42.9 percent (12 of 28) from the field, including 30.8 percent from beyond the arc (4 of 13). The Broncos collected 20 rebounds, three assists and one steal. They shot 57.1 percent from the free throw line (4 of 7) with seven turnovers. SMU shot 43.5 percent (10 of 23) from the field, including 50.0 percent from beyond the arc (5 of 10). The Mustangs collected 14 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and one block. They shot 62.5 percent from the free throw line (5 of 8) with six turnovers.
In the first half individually Santa Clara was led by Kevin Foster, who sank three threes, also turning the ball over three times with one assist and two rebounds. Payne had three rebounds and seven points. Roquemore and Harrison both had four rebounds each.
Nyakundi picked up his third foul at 19:46 to start the second half and then Trasolini scored at 19:40. Michael Santos scored at 19:02 and SMU scored at 18:50 before Foster scored his 20th point of the game at 18:40, but SMU answered, 36-34 Broncos.
Foster scored in the paint and then Payne tipped in a Trasolini miss at 16:50 to put SCU up eight, 42-34. The Mustangs went on a 14-2 run to take a 48-44 lead at 11:48, including back-to-back threes with only Harrison scoring at 14:11 over the five-minute span.
Payne scored at 11:12 to stop the run, but SMU scored again at 10:39 and added a free throw at 9:31. Santa Clara went on a 5-0 run of its own with baskets by Dowdell and Santos, tying it up at 51-51 at 7:35.
Dowdell was whistled for his fourth foul of the game at 7:28. Mangrum missed the front end. Foster's floater gave the Broncos a lead at 7:01 and then Foster hit a three at 6:29. Mangrum answered with one of his own at 6:02.
Trasolini dunked it at 5:42 to put SCU up four, 58-54. Foster scored to make it 60-54 at 4:44. Santos grabbed a huge defensive board at 4:21. Nyakundi shoved Trasolini under the basket for his fourth foul at 3:56, but he missed the front end.
The teams traded quick steals with Foster coming up with it at 3:25 and he hit a basket at 3:08, his 31st of the game, 62-54 Broncos. Foster crushed his 137th three of the year and was fouled at 2:14, sinking the free throw to make it 66-54.
Nyakundi fouled out at 1:03 in shoving Santos as he grabbed another defensive board. Santos hit both free throws at 1:03 to put SCU up 68-54.