Santa Clara went on a 10-0 run to close out the game in the final 2:56, including four clutch free throws by Evan Roquemore, to defeat Big East member Villanova 65-64 on Sunday in the consolation finals of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. The Broncos were led by the season-best 20 points of Raymond Cowels III, who also hit a career-high six threes in the game.
Santa Clara is 4-2 and Villanova is 4-2. Villanova entered the game averaging 80 ppg and has been to the NCAA tournament seven straight years, including the Final Four in 2009.
"In practice we go over drills like that every day. Coach Keating tells us we need to treat the next play like it's the last play we will play," said Roquemore. "We needed to make sure that every possession was our best possession. (on Jay Wright calling timeout after the first free throw) I was thinking about the defensive end during the timeout. I have a lot of confidence in my free throw shooting and I knew I'd make it."
"Anything can happen in the game if you keep fighting," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "I have a lot of respect for the Big East and Jay Wright and all he has done at Villanova. I told our team one team will go 3-0 and if not us we want to be one of the three team's going 2-1. With all three high caliber games on ESPN, we wanted to expose our team to the competition and our school to the nation. Going to college is about taking advantage of opportunities. That won't be lost on us. We have a lot of momentum as we head back to practice this week. They are really willing to learn and that's great for our program."
"Just a wild game, you hate to lose games that way, but we did everything possible to give it away. You have to give them credit. Their guards were outstanding. I thought their three guards just dominating the game. Not only did they score, they made all the right plays," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright. (On what impressed him about Santa Clara) - "I just thought their guards were outstanding. They just controlled the game. Even at the end, defensively, they got in us, we couldn't get by them. On the offensive end, they made all the right decisions. They made free throws; I just love all those guards."
Raymond Cowels III scored a season-high 20 points included a career-best 6-9 effort from beyond the arc. Roquemore, who hit two free throws late in the first half, scored 13 in the second half to finish with 15, including 8 of 9 from the free throw line and nine assists, just one shy of back-to-back double-doubles. Kevin Foster scored 13 points. Leading the Broncos in rebounds were four players with three (McArthur, Cowels, Atanga and Roquemore).
"I prepared for this game like every other game," said Cowels.
Santa Clara shot 44.0 percent (22 of 50), including 40.7 percent from beyond the arc (11 of 27). They collected 26 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals and had 11 turnovers. They were 10 of 11 from the free throw line (90.9 percent).
Villanova shot 41.2 percent (21 of 51), including 37.5 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 16). They collected 36 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, two blocks and had 14 turnovers. They were 16 of 22 from the free throw line (72.7 percent).
Mouphtaou Yarou led the Wildcats with 19 points and seven rounds, scoring 5 of 7 free throws. Dominic Cheek scored 10 and Maalik Wayns had 10 as well.
After Villanova started the game with a three, Foster answered with one of his own at 18:45. The Wildcats went on a 9-2 run in the next three minutes, with Harrison's bucket at 18:45.
The Broncos then started their own 15-1 run to take a 20-13 lead. Foster's three at 15:45 followed an inside bucket by McArthur. Roquemore stole the ball and a sweet pass from Foster resulted in a three by Cowels at 14:48. Foster scored a five-footer at 14:11.
During the run, Wayns hit a free throw at 12:56, Clark dumped in a floater and Cowels his second three at 11:59.
Kennedy dunked the ball at 10:17 to stop the run. McArthur answered with a bucket inside at 10:04.
Playing with four freshmen and Cowels for the next few minutes, B. Clark scored a three and the Wildcats scored inside. Jordan Akwenuke hit a pair of free throws at 8:06 and B. Clark hit a jumper at 6:10 to make it 29-21 Broncos.
The Wildcats scored their first bucket in three minutes at 4:39 on an 11-3 run and tied it up 32-32 with four straight free throws at 2:06. B. Clark got tied up defending with three seconds left on the clock and Domique Cheek sank all three.
Roquemore was fouled with :00.2 seconds and he sank two of three after a mix-up by the officials, making it 35-34 Wildcats at the half.
In the first half Santa Clara shot 50.0 percent (12 of 24), including 54.5 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 11). Villanova shot 40.0 percent (10 of 25), including 28.6 percent from beyond the arc (2 of 7). Santa Clara was 4 of 5 from the free throw line and the Wildcats were 13 of 14. Individually in the first half Cowels led with nine points and Foster added eight. Yarou led the Wildcats with 12 points.
Cowels' fourth three of the game tied it up 37-37 at 19:10. After a Wildcat bucket, Foster's three gave SCU a 40-39 lead at 17:47.
Cowels' fifth three made it 43-39 at 16:45. His five threes tied a career-best set vs. Wofford on Dec. 30, 2009.
The 'Cats went up 52-45 on a 12-2 run. Timeout Broncos.
Cowels' sixth, a career-high, was followed by Roquemore's floater inside. Bell answered the 5-0 run by the Broncos with a 7-2 run.
Foster scored inside to stop the run at 8:42 and then Roquemore hit a three at 8:07 to cut the lead to three, 58-55.
The 'Cats scored the next six to take a 64-55 lead at 3:25. Atanga dunked to stop the 6-0 run at 2:53.
Roquemore stole the ball and was fouled shooting, he made both to cut the lead to three, 64-61, with 50.6 ticks left.
Atanga picked up his third charge of the game and it was huge inside on a foul whistled on Wayns at 22.5 seconds. After a Jay Wright-timeout on the inbounds, Santa Clara called for one at 10.2 seconds.
The 'Cats fouled Roquemore with 7.5 seconds left and after a brief look at the official book to make sure SCU was in the bonus, Roquemore sank both to pull SCU within one at 7.5 seconds.
Cowels was whistled on the inbounds at 6.4 and Pinkston clanked it off the rim. Roquemore grabbed the rebound and Roquemore was crushed by Pinkston.
With 4.3 seconds left Roquemore sank one before Wright whistled for time to ice the Henderson, Nev. Native. Roquemore sank it after the timeout to put Santa Clara up 65-64 and that was the final!