SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara honored its seniors in a pre-game ceremony before inserting all four into the starting lineup, but the emotion of the day wore off quickly as Saint Mary's used a career-high 35 points from Stephen Holt to hand the Broncos a 76-54 defeat in a West Coast Conference tilt Saturday afternoon at the Leavey Center.
The Broncos dropped to 12-17 overall and 5-11 in WCC play. The Gaels improved to 20-9 overall and 11-3 in the WCC. Santa Clara closes out its regular season with a pair of road games at LMU on Feb. 27 and Pepperdine on Mar. 1.
Saint Mary's led by 20, 43-23, at the break after Holt scored 21 of his career-high total and nearly outscored the Broncos by himself. The Gaels scored the first three points of the second half to increase their margin to 23 and never saw their advantage drop below 20 points the rest of the way.
Brandon Clark led the Broncos with 16 points hitting 6 of 13 from the field. He also added a game-high five assists. Evan Roquemore, one of Santa Clara's seniors, scored 13 points and moved past Kyle Bailey into 11th place on the school's career point chart with 1,579. John McArthur, another Santa Clara senior, scored four points and collected a team-high four rebounds, including the 350th of his four-year career.
Santa Clara shot 40% from the field (20-of-50), including 21.4% from beyond the arc (3-of-14) and 61.1% from the free throw line (11-of-18). The Broncos collected 18 rebounds, 11 steals, 9 assists, 4 blocks and 7 turnovers.
Holt became the first Saint Mary's player to score 30 points in a game since Matthew Dellavedova scored 31 against Jackson State on Dec. 11, 2012. He connected on 14 of 17 field goals, 4 of 6 three-pointers and made all three free throws. Brad Waldow chipped in with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Saint Mary's shot 59.2% from the field (29-of-49), including 64.3% from beyond the arc (9-of-14) and 90% from the free throw line (9-of-10). The Gaels collected 36 rebounds, 4 steals, 10 assists, 2 blocks and 15 turnovers.
Roquemore's jumper at 16:06 of the first half gave the Broncos a 10-9 lead and was the fourth lead change in the first four minutes. The Broncos would go scoreless for the next 10 minutes and fall into a deep hole.
James Walker III countered with a triple for Saint Mary's to ignite a 24-0 run for the Gaels that gave them a comfortable lead at 33-10 with 6:50 left in the half. Walker hit a pair of threes and Holt added 11 points during the Gaels surge. The Broncos went 0 for 10 from the field during their drought.
Clark ended the Gaels' run and started a streak of his own scoring the next seven points for Santa Clara. He ended his roll by converting a traditional three-point that cut the lead to 33-17 with 4:02 left.
Jared Brownridge hit his only bucket of the first half when he drained a three from the top of the key with 1:16 left, cutting the deficit to 18 at 41-23, but Holt hit a putback after a Beau Levesque miss as time expired in the first half to give the Gaels a 43-23 lead at the intermission.
NOTES: The Broncos honored their seniors by including them in their starting lineup. The starters were John McArthur, Evan Roquemore, Jerry Brown and Julian Clarke along with Jared Brownridge ... The seniors stayed in the lineup until the first media timeout at 15:02 of the half ... Jerry Brown scored 5 points giving him exactly 750 for his career ... SMC's Stephen Holt jumped two spots to 12th in career scoring with passing Mickey McConnell and David Sivulich.