Santa Clara will face Portland in the play-in game of the Zappos.com WCC Championship on Wed., Feb. 29 at 6 pm in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. If the Broncos win, they will advance to the WCC Championship's first round where they will meet Bay Area rival No. 5 seed San Francisco at 6 pm on Thurs., March 1. If the Broncos defeat USF, they will face No. 4 seed LMU at 6 pm on Fri., March 2. The winner of that game will face No. 1 seed Saint Mary's on Sat., March 3 at 6 pm on ESPN2.
The home team has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the Broncos and the Pilots. They are 1-1 on a neutral court. This is the 85th meeting between the two teams and Santa Clara leads the all-time series 55-29. Santa Clara is 3-1 vs. Portland in the WCC Tournament. Santa Clara won in 1987 (91-60), 1998 (74-53) and 2006 (72-68), but fell to the Pilots in 1990 (65-62).
Santa Clara and Portland have split the season series three of the last five seasons with Portland sweeping it in 2010 and 2012 and Santa Clara sweeping it in 2006 and '07. Santa Clara is 3-7 vs. Portland under head coach Kerry Keating in his first five seasons.
The Pilots got the best of the Broncos in their first match-up in Portland, winning 84-74 on Jan. 5, 2012. Niyi Harrison tied a then-career-high with 19 points off the bench at Portland. He was 7 of 8 from the free throw line, tying a career-high for free throws made. Brandon Clark came off the bench to dump in a then-career-high 16 points. He was 5 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free throw line; and he also added five assists.
Despite a balanced all-around scoring effort in their second match-up, the Broncos fell 84-78 to Portland in the Leavey Center on Feb. 2. Santa Clara was led by Denzel Johnson's 18 points (6 of 13). Harrison added 16 points and seven rebounds while Raymond Cowels III and B. Clark scored 12 and 11, respectively. Evan Roquemore dished out eight assists for the Broncos.
If the Broncos beat Portland, they will advance to face USF on Thursday at 6 pm. Santa Clara is 109-100 vs. USF and USF holds a 12-11 record on a neutral court. The two teams have tangled six times in the WCC Tournament with Santa Clara posting a 4-2 record. All six contests were decided by seven points or less, with four of the games decided by two points or less. Santa Clara won in 1988 (90-88), 1989 (69-64), 2005 (67-60) and 2008 (51-50), with the Dons capturing the contests in 1994 (76-74) and 1998 (85-83).
Look and Listen
The Portland game will be shown live via web-streaming on www.WCCSports.com. The Portland game will also be broadcast via the Bronco Radio Network on both KDOW 1220 AM and Broncos All-Access at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. The game is being tape-delayed with the broadcast beginning at 7 p.m. on KDOW 1220AM. Anthony Passarelli is in his fifth season as the Broncos' play-by-play announcer. Out of the listening area, KDOW is streamed online at www.1220kdow.com.
The USF game will be shown on BYU TV at 6 pm and also tape-delayed on KDOW 1220 AM at 7 pm.
Santa Clara is expected to be without sophomore forward John McArthur again this week after he suffered a concussion when he was elbowed in the head early in the second half of the BYU game on Feb. 18. McArthur didn't suit up last week vs. Pepperdine or at LMU. He is listed as day-to-day. McArthur started 26 games this season and averages 5.6 ppg and 4.2 rpg.
As a result of an incident on Jan. 21, Kevin Foster was suspended by Santa Clara University for the remainder of the season. Foster went through the Santa Clara University student judicial process and the Office of Student Life informed Foster of its decision on Feb. 13. Foster missed seven games during the process and as of Feb. 13, he miss the remaining four regular season WCC games and the WCC Tournament. Foster was the West Coast Conference's leading scorer with 17.8 ppg, including 3.56 threes per game. He was also No. 3 nationally in threes per game after leading the nation last year.
Santa Clara is 8-21 and 0-16 in the WCC this season. It has lost 17 straight dating back to its 75-55 win over Eastern Michigan on Dec. 29, 2011. The losing streak started with a last-second miracle shot by Wagner on Dec. 30, 2011 as the Broncos fell 64-62 in the 45th annual Cable Car Classic Championship game. It is the longest losing streak in school history. The last team to lose each of its WCC regular season games: Saint Mary's went 0-14 in 2001.
Santa Clara is averaging 69.5 ppg, including 67.6 ppg in league play. The Broncos are giving up 74.9 ppg, including 79.6 ppg in league play. Santa Clara lost 12 of its 16 WCC games by 10+ points. It lost by three at LMU on Feb. 25, five at San Diego on Feb. 4 and by six to Portland on Feb. 2 and then Pepperdine on Feb. 23.
The Broncos have three players averaging double figures: Roquemore scores 13.6 ppg, Harrison adds 10.5 ppg and Raymond Cowels III scores 10.0. Roquemore has a team-leading 5.3 apg. Harrison leads the team on the boards with 6.3 rpg and Yannick Atanga is second with 5.3 rpg. Three current Broncos averaged double figures in conference play as Roquemore scored 12.9 ppg and Harrison and Raymond Cowels III collected 11.4 ppg. Harrison was the leading Bronco rebounder in league play with 5.9 rpg and Roquemore paced the team with 4.9 apg.
Denzel Johnson's 26 points off the bench vs. USF on Jan. 26 are the highest point total by a Bronco this year in a WCC game. He has scored double figures in seven of the last 10 games, including 26 vs. LMU on Jan. 23, 20 at USF on Feb. 9 and 17 at then-No. 13 Saint Mary's on Feb. 11. Harrison has 17 6+ rebound games this year, pulling down nine rebounds with a career-high 23 points vs. Saint Mary's. He collected 11 rebounds at LMU on Feb. 25. Cowels III has 3+ threes in 14 games this season, including a career-high six 3s vs. Villanova and four each vs. Pep on Feb. 23 and at LMU on Feb. 25.
Portland is 6-23 this season, including 3-13 in league play. They are 2-0 in neutral site games. Ryan Nicholas leads all Pilot scorers with 11.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Nicholas and Kevin Bailey both averaged 11.1 ppg in league play, with Nicholas pacing the Pilots with 7.8 rpg.
Looking back for a second on last year, Santa Clara finished last season 24-14, including 8-6 in the WCC with a semi-finals appearance in the WCC Tournament (lost to Saint Mary's). They won the post-season CollegeInsider.com Tournament with All-WCC guard Kevin Foster collecting MVP honors.
The Bad News This Season: Santa Clara lost a couple important parts of the 2011-12 team within about 40 hours on two different continents in early September. First, signee/sophomore transfer Chris Caird suffered a torn ACL/MCL on Sept. 4 playing pick up in Iceland prior to the joining the team on Sept. 11. He was expected to play a key role for the Broncos this year. Due to the surgery and recovery, he didn't come to Santa Clara this year. Then on Sept. 6, All-WCC junior forward Marc Trasolini suffered a torn ACL in the first two minutes of Santa Clara's first game of its foreign tour in Trasolini's hometown of Vancouver at Trinity Western. Trasolini tore his ACL pushing off the ground on a five-foot jumper.
The Good News This Season: Every Santa Clara player will return next season with the exception of senior walk-on Phillip Bach.
With that said, Santa Clara is one of the youngest teams in the country with its 11 scholarship players this season totalling just eight years of total court time (no seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen). With no Foster in the lineup for since Jan. 21, Santa Clara now tallies six total years of court time with its 10 available scholarship players. Six Years! Wait, with McArthur not suiting up that number dropped to a FIVE vs. Pepperdine and at LMU. In addition to leadership, SCU is without its top three rebounders from last season (Trasolini and graduation of Ben Dowdell and WCC Defender of the Year Troy Payne).
The Broncos started two juniors (Niyi Harrison, Raymond Cowels III), one sophomore (Evan Roquemore) and two freshmen (Yannick Atanga, Denzel Johnson). at LMU. The next five players off the bench, including walk-on Jordan Akwenuke, are all freshmen. The Broncos started two or more freshmen in six of its final 11 league games this season. Five freshmen have started in the last 11 games, including Brandon Clark (started first career game vs. USF), Denzel Johnson (second career start at Pepperdine), Yannick Atanga (second career start vs. LMU), Robert Garrett (first career start vs. LMU) and Julian Clarke (first career start vs. LMU).
Raymond Cowels III has stepped up his game recently. Against Pepperdine on Feb. 23 he went 5-12 from the field including 4-9 from three to lead the team with 15 points. Then at LMU on Feb. 25 he scored a season-high 22 points, hitting 4 of 7 from three-point land (and was 8 of 16 from the field). It was the fourth game in a row he has scored in double figures and the seventh time he has accomplished the feat in the last nine games. In that same stretch he is 22-47 from three, good for a 46.8 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
After playing 24.0 mpg with 7.3 ppg his freshman year with 11 starts in 32 games, Cowels III played 15.3 mpg, scoring 5.4 ppg last season, including starting nine of the 37 games he played in. This season he has started each of the 29 games the Broncos have played this season, averaging a single-season high of 27.4 mpg. He hit a then-single-season high 46 threes in his rookie season and already has 59 threes. He is shooting a single-season high 42.4 percent from beyond the arc in 2011-12. If the season ended today he would finish at No. 6 with that three point percentage of makes. In addition, he is the only Bronco to start every game this season.
Currently Raymond Cowels III, Evan Roquemore, Yannick Atanga and Brandon Clark are climbing up various Bronco single season record charts.
Atanga is No. 5 on the SCU Freshman top 10 list in blocks with 24. He needs one to tie Jens Gordon (25, 1985-86). He had a career-high four blocks vs. Pepperdine on Feb. 25. He is also No. 6 on the SCU freshman rebounds top 10 list. He needs five to tie Dan Malane at No. 5 (160, 1974-75).
Clark is No. 3 in free throw percentage (80.0 percentage) on the Freshman list; and he is No. 4 on the free throw percentage top 10 list (39.5 percent).
Cowels III needs four more threes to jump into the top 10 and tie three former Broncos with 63 threes each, including Steve Nash (1996). Cowels III is currently tied for No. 6 on the three point field goal percentage chart with Mitch Burley (42.4 percent, 1987-88).
Roquemore, who broke a slew of freshmen records last year, is No. 5 on single season assists list. He needs nine to tie Brody Angley at No. 4 (164, 2005-06).
Niyi Harrison and Yannick Atanga both collected dougle-digit rebounds at LMU on Feb. 25. Harrison had 11 and Atanga had 10. It is the first time since Dec. 3, 2011 the Broncos have had two players collect double-digit rebounds. That night vs. CSU Northridge Harrison and Atanga both 11 rebounds each. Harrison leads the team with 6.3 rpg and Atanga is second with 5.3 rpg.
Harrison has had three double-digit rebound games this year; and he has collected 9+ rebounds eight times. Atanga has had five double-digit rebound games this year, including 9+ seven times this season.
Harrison has been a monster on the boards for the Broncos in 2011-12, collecting 6+ rebounds in 17 games this year. Combining points and rebounds, Harrison has three double-doubles in his career and John McArthur has two, both this season. Combining points and assists, Evan Roquemore has two with both coming this season.
Harrison has two double-double's this season: his first this season was in Santa Clara's 71-58 victory over CSU Northridge when he scored 10 points and had 11 rebounds. His second this season was in the 75-55 win over Eastern Michigan on Dec. 29 when he collected 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. His first career double-double came during his freshman year against Northeastern on Dec. 29, 2009 when he finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Harrison has "missed" a double-double five times this season with nine rebounds or points in those games. Those games: 10 points, nine rebounds vs. Wagner; 23 points, nine rebounds vs. then-No. 23 Saint Mary's; 11 points, nine rebounds vs. LMU; 11 points and nine rebounds vs. Pepperdine and 11 rebounds and nine points at LMU.
McArthur's two double-doubles both came this season. He scored 19 points with 10 rebounds vs. San Jose State and then collected 12 points and 12 rebounds at Houston Baptist.
Roquemore's first career double-double was vs. Oklahoma when he scored 27 points and added 10 assists. He collected his second career double-double vs. Pacific when he scored 14 and dished out a career-high 11 assists.
Santa Clara turned the ball over just seven times vs. No. 23 Gonzaga on Feb. 16, which tied a then-team-low under Coach Keating. The last time it turned the ball over seven times: it fell 63-62 on a last-second three by Patty Mills at Saint Mary's on Jan. 10, 2009. Topping that mark, Santa Clara turned the ball over just six times vs.Pepperdine in Thursday night's 63-57 loss to the Waves. It's the fewest turnovers under Keating and the least number of turnovers since Santa Clara turned it over five times in its 78-76 win at Saint Mary's on Feb. 11, 2005.
Evan Roquemore is averaging 5.34 apg, including 4.88 apg in league play. Roquemore is No. 45 nationally in apg and he is No. 2 in apg in league play as well. He has collected 7+ assists in nine games this season and 4+ assists in 21 of 29 games. This season he is leading the team in assists with 155 overall and he is currently No. 5 individually on the Broncos single season top 10 list for assists.
Last season he broke the Bronco freshman assist record with 139, topping Brian Jones who scored 119 assists in 1996-97. He broke the freshman records for free throws made (159) and attempted (193) last season, coming .001 from tying Steve Nash's record for free throw percentage. Nash was 82.5 percent from the free throw line in 1992-93 and Roquemore was 82.4 percent (159 of 193) last season.
After being selected to the 76 Classic Five-Man All-Tournament team and leading the WCC in points and assists per game and free throw percentage, Roquemore was named the WCC Player of the Week on Nov. 28. Nationally he was also named the Lou Henson Award Co-Player of the Week and the Jesuit Men's Basketball Co-Player of the Week.
At the 76 Classic, the sophomore averaged 22.7 points and eight assists per contest, shooting 52% from the floor. His 24 total assists are a new 76 Classic tournament record. In addition to the assists, he shot 95.7 percent from the free throw line at the Classic, hitting 22 of 23. It is a first-time honor for the sophomore from Henderson, Nev.
On Thanksgiving weekend he led SCU to victories over New Mexico and Villanova, and a third-place finish at the 76 Classic. In the 79-76 OT win over pre-tournament favorite New Mexico, Roquemore poured in 26 points. Against Oklahoma, Roquemore posted a double-double with 27 points and 10 assists. He poured in 15 points and dished out nine assists in the 65-64 comeback win over Villanova. Santa Clara finished the final 2:56 minutes of the game on a 10-0 run to defeat the 'Cats with Roquemore hitting four clutch free throws with less than 10 seconds left to clinch the win.
Santa Clara hit 14 of 23 three-pointers on Feb. 9 at USF. It was the third time this season it has hit 14 threes with the Broncos hitting 14 vs. UC Merced on Nov. 11, 2011 and then vs. Oklahoma on Nov. 25, 2011. Sounds almost commonplace? Not so fast. It was one off tying the school record set by the Broncos on March 5, 2001 when they hit 15 vs. Gonzaga. Prior to this season, Santa Clara had hit 14 threes one other time in school history, at Pepperdine on Feb. 14, 2004.
Four players had three plus threes in the game. Denzel Johnson was 4 of 6 beyond the arc, Evan Roquemore was 4 of 8, Brandon Clark was 3 of 3 and Raymond Cowels III was 3 of 6.
The Broncos are No. 31 nationally in threes per game and also lead the WCC with 8.1 threes made per game. The Broncos have shot 562 three pointers this year and the opponents have shot 453. In return, the Broncos have made exactly 79 more threes than their opponents (234 to 164 made). Of the 1,624 shots attempted by the Broncos this year, 38.3% have come beyond the arc and they hit 36.3 percent beyond the arc. The opponents are shooting 36.5 percent beyond the arc and 29.2 percent of their field goal attempts are coming from beyond the arc.
After leading the nation in free throws last year, the Broncos have shot less free throws this year than the opponents have made. Santa Clara's opponents are 573 of 783 from the free throw line, making 73.2 percent. Santa Clara is 395 of 562 from the free throw line, hitting 70.3 percent.
On Feb. 9 at USF the Broncos were a season-low 1 of 3 from the free throw line as compared to USF's 15 of 23 effort. It was the fewest number of free throws made since Santa Clara was 1 of 9 vs. Mississippi State on Dec. 20, 2003 in a 66-61 OT loss. It was the fewest free throws since it attempted three at LMU on Jan. 24, 1986 (was 2 of 3 in a 55-54 loss). The fewest under Keating previously: three made vs. San Diego on Feb. 23, 2008 and the fewest shot: five vs. Sacramento St. on Dec., 6, 2008.
With Chris Caird and Marc Trasolini lost for the season and Kevin Foster gone from competition since Jan. 21, Kerry Keating had to look down to the end of the bench for help when Evan Roquemore was slowed by a sprained foot. In stepped freshman Demetri Posey, a manager from Portland, Ore. Posey dressed for the first time at USF on Feb. 9 and will continue to dress the rest of the season. A graduate of Central Catholic High School, Posey, 5-10 and 175 pounds, played less than a minute at USF on Feb. 9.