DURHAM N.C. - On the nation's biggest stage, in one of the toughest venues in the country, Santa Clara hung tough at No. 1 Duke, but fell 90-77. The Broncos trailed by just two at halftime from a standout performance from Kevin Foster, who scored 29 points on the day. After the trip back from the East coast tonight, the Broncos will begin West Coast Conference play vs. USF on Wed., Jan. 2 at 7 pm on ESPNU.
Santa Clara moves to 11-3 and Duke to 12-0.
"You've gotta come out with aggressiveness, you've gotta come out fighting, and you've gotta come out ready to play not scared, and our guys definitely did that," SCU coach Kerry Keating said.
Foster led the Broncos with 29 points, including 5 of 11 from beyond the arc, and four assists. "I hit a couple 3s, so of course, they were going to start denying me," Foster said. "They made it hard to get catches. . At the same time, we still made plays and we fed off of that."
Seth Curry, the younger brother of the Warriors' Stef Curry, led the Blue Devils with 31 points. National Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee scored 22 with 13 rebounds.
"I thought we withstood the first four minutes (of the second half) better than anticipated," said Keating. "They made their charge, we knew it was going to come and we couldn't stop it, and we had to fight back the rest of the way."
"This was like a February ACC game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They're men. They're a man's team."
Santa Clara shot 45.9 percent from the field (28 of 61), including 33.3 percent from beyond the arc (9 of 27). The Broncos shot 80.0 percent from the free throw line (12 of 15) and collected 28 rebounds, nine assists, 14 turnovers, six blocks and seven steals.
Duke shot 49.2 percent from the field (31 of 63), including 50.0 percent from the three (7 of 14). The Blue Devils shot 63.6 percent from the free throw line (21 of 33) and collected 40 rebounds, 15 assists, 11 turnovers, two blocks and two steals.
The Broncos struck first as Foster hit a floater in the lane. After defensive stop, Evan Roquemore hit a three-pointer to put the Broncos up 5-0 on the nation's top team.
Mason Plumlee put the Blue Devils on the board with a put-back dunk to cut the Broncos lead to three. Quinn Cook added a second-chance opportunity to make it a one-point contest. Foster answered with a layup, but Seth Curry added a jumper to make the score 7-6 Duke.
Garrett stuffed Plumlee and Trasolini slammed it home to put the Broncos up three. Curry sunk a tough jumper to keep Duke within one. After a defensive stop, Cowels III knocked down a wide open three to put the Broncos up, but Ryan Kelly answered with a triple of his own. Entering the first media timeout, Santa Clara led Duke, 12-11. The Devils went on a 17-2 run from 15:32-9:32.
After the timeout, Cook sunk two free throws to give the Blue Devils their first lead. After a Santa Clara miss, Yannick Atanga came up with a big defensive play for the Broncos. Atanga blocked a Plumlee jumper then fell on the loose ball to give SCU possession.
Tyler Thornton hit a three to give Duke a four-point advantage entering the second media timeout.
Foster hit a jumper after absorbing contact to pull Santa Clara with two. The Blue Devils answered with a Cook three-pointer to take a 19-14 advantage. Curry added another triple as the Blue Devils pulled ahead by eight. Josh Hairston added one from the charity stripe to add to the Duke lead. Plumlee added a dunk to give Duke a 11-point cushion. However, Roquemore jumped in front of a pass and found Foster for an easy two. After a defensive stop, Roquemore used a stutter step in the lane and knocked down a floater to pull Santa Clara within seven.
After the media break, Plumlee added two in the paint. Foster answered with a layup to keep Santa Clara within seven. Plumlee converted one of two from the charity stripe, but Foster added another layup to cut the Santa Clara lead to six.
Foster continued to fuel the Santa Clara offensive strike, hitting a clutch three-pointer from the top of the arc to cut the Duke lead to three. Rasheed Sulaimon added one from the free throw line give Duke a four-point cushion, but Cowels III knocked down a mid-range jumper that pulled the Broncos within two. Staunch defense by Santa Clara forced a Duke timeout that got the small contingency of SCU supporters ecstatic.
Foster hit a three-pointer that gave Santa Clara the lead. The Santa Clara fans challenged the thousands of Duke with a roaring S-C-U chant. Entering the media timeout, the Broncos held a one-point advantage of the Blue Devils.
Curry converted one free-throw to even the contest, 30-30. Plumlee added another as Duke regained the lead, 31-30. However, Brandon Clark answered with a pair of free-throws to put SCU up one. Clark tallied another pair as Santa Clara took a three-point lead. Curry evened the game with a triple that forced a Santa Clara timeout.
Sulaimon added a fast-break layup that gave Duke a two-point advantage with a minute left. Curry added another layup as the Broncos trailed by four. Trasolini got a tough floater to fall to pull SCU within two entering the half. Duke led 38-36 at the half.
To begin the second half, Sulaimon hit one of two from the line to put Duke up three. Cowels III responded with a floater to pull SCU within one. Sulaimon answered with a layup to put Duke up 41-38. Cowels III pulled up in transition and sunk a triple to tie the contest 41-41. A Blue Devil turnover ignited the Santa Clara bench and forced Duke to call timeout.
Following the timeout, Roquemore hit a tough layup that gave the Broncos a two-point advantage. After Duke missed two free throws. Roquemore found a cutting Foster who elevated for a monstrous one-handed dunk that gave Santa Clara a four-point lead. The Broncos led 45-41 with a 9-3 run to start the second half.
With 15:56, Duke rallied with a Plumlee and-one dunk to cut Santa Clara's lead to 45-44. When Duke attempted to take the lead, Atanga came up with big block, pinning Ryan Kelly's shot off the backboard. Duke took the lead after a Santa Clara technical foul, 46-45. Curry knocked down a tough three-pointer to put the Blue Devils up four.
Roquemore added a free throw to pull Santa Clara within three, before Duke responded with an easy layup. Curry knocked down another three to put the Blue Devils up eight with 12:30 remaining in the game.
The Broncos responded with a two-handed jam by Trasolini to cut the Blue Devil lead to six. However, Curry responded with a layup. The Broncos got caught in transition and gave up a dunk that put Duke up 10.
Down 12, Roquemore knocked down two free throws, but Kelly responded with two of his own for the Blue Devils.
Despite being down, the Broncos refused to quit. Clark darted through traffic to hit a contested layup. Foster knocked down a triple that cut the lead to 69-55.
Foster continued to knock down tough shots, hitting his fourth triple of the day and cut the Duke lead to 13.
Curry continued his sharpshooting adding a mid-range jumper that was followed by Plumlee converting on the fast break.
Trailing by 16, Trasolini added a tip-in and Clark converted on an and-one. After Roquemore converted from downtown, Curry and Roquemore traded layups to put Duke ahead 80-70 with three minutes left.
Foster continued his big performance hitting another three with less than two minutes remaining to cut the Duke lead to 11 points.
The Broncos continued to hang tough, but fell to the nation's top team 90-77.