SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Despite a career-high 32 points from Brandon Clark and the 500th career assist from Evan Roquemore, who started for the first time this season, the Broncos were unable to overcame the hot shooting of the North Dakota State Bison and fell in the first round of the Cable Car Classic 91-85 on Friday night at the Leavey Center.
The Broncos (2-3) will play the Rice Owls in the consolation game of the Classic Saturday at 6:00 p.m. North Dakota State (3-3) will play Rider in the Championship game at approximately 8:15 pm. Rider defeated Rice, 97-93, in overtime in game one.
For the fourth consecutive game Clark topped the 20-point mark and set a new career-best with his total. He hit 10 of 13 rield goals, 5 of 8 three-point attempts and all 7 of his free throws. Jared Brownridge added 16 points and Roquemore chipped in with 11 points and 7 assists.
For the game Santa Clara shot 47.4% from the field (27-of-57), including 46.2% from beyond the arc (12-of-26). The Broncos collected 22 rebounds, 6 steals, 16 assists, 3 blocks and 7 turnovers.
North Dakota State shot a blistering 58.7% from the field (27-of-46), including 50% from beyond the arc (5-of-10). The Bison collected 35 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks, 13 assists and 15 turnovers. Led by Taylor Braun, who hit 19 of 19 free throws to set Cable Car Classic records, the Bison shot 88.9 percent from the line (32 of 36).
Braun led six players in double figures with 21 points and eight rebounds. Mike Felt and Lawrence Alexander added 15 each, Marshall Bjorklund 13, TrayVonn Wright 12 and Kory Brown 10.
The Bison got off to a hot start and never really cooled making seven of their first eight shots to build a 19-13 advantage six minutes into the game. Alexander hit all three of his field goal attempts, including the Bison's first three-pointer of the game, and both free throws to account for nine of the team's point total.
The Broncos weren't that bad connecting on 5 of 8 field goals but found themselves trailing early.
Evan Roquemore, making his first start of the season, dished out his 500th career assist on a 3-pointer by Brandon Clark with 8:44 left in the first half. He became the fourth Bronco with 500 career assists and trails all-time leader Brian Jones (517) by 14.
Santa Clara took its first lead of the game at 36-37 on a layup by Jalen Richard with 4:44 left in the half, but the Bison quickly regained control of the game by going on a 10-0 run highlighted by an alley-oop dunk from Wright forcing a Santa Clara timeout.
A Denzel Johnson layup ended the run and cut the lead to 46-39 with 2:10 to play in the half but the Bison countered with the final two buckets to take a 50-39 lead at the break. It was Johnson's only points of the game.
Brownridge started the second half with a three to close the gap to 50-42 and the Broncos rallied to get within four at 58-54 on another Brownridge three with 14:09 left.
After falling behind by as many as nine points the Broncos rallied once again and closed within a single point on a layup and free throw by Clark with 5:16 left and tied the game at 74-74 on a three-point play from Jerry Brown with 4:42 left.
NDSU responded and went on an 11-3 run over the next three minutes with nine of their points coming at the free throw line. Braun went 4 of 4 while the team hit 9 of 10 during that stretch.
Trailing 85-77 with 1:51 left, Clark got the Broncos within two at 85-83 by scoring all six points on two layups and a pair of free throws, he then stole the Bison's inbounds pass with 31.7 seconds left but turned the ball over himself just eight seconds later.
Braun hit six more free throws over the final 23 seconds to secure the win for North Dakota State.