It was a battle at the end, but Santa Clara got the best of the Dons as it defeated San Francisco 66-65 at War Memorial Gymnasium behind Marc Trasolini's career-high 26 points. Santa Clara is 9-13 and 1-4 in the WCC. USF is 7-13 and 2-2 in the WCC.
Santa Clara hosts No. 10 Gonzaga on Thurs., Jan. 28 and good seats remain. Call the SCU ticket office at 408-554-4660 or go online to order at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com.
"We needed this win. Enough with learning. We've learned enough at least for tonight - this win was good for us. All of our freshmen continue to grow and Marc's offensive output tonight was exceptional. Niyi Harrison might have had his best game for us tonight. Chris (Cunningham) is also improving even if he didn't play much tonight. Ray (Cowels) has been one of our best free throw shooters up to now and being on the road got to him late in the second half," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "I can't wait to get back into the gym and practice. We have two tough games ahead of us next week. It's going to be a war with Gonzaga - it has been at home the last two years and we hope we'll be ready."
Santa Clara shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 18.2 percent from beyond the arc. It collected 27 rebounds, nine steals and nine blocks 13 turnovers. Santa Clara shot just 11 free throws, hitting eight of them. USF shot 45.3 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. It collected 40 rebounds, five steals and three blocks, but turned the ball over 19 times and shot just 57.1 percent from the free throw line (57.1 percent).
Individually, Trasolini's 26 points led all scorers. He was a career-high 10 of 15 from the field. Niyi Harrison scored 11 and a career-high four blocks. Robert Smith scored 10 points. It was the 16th game in 18 tries Smith scored in double figures.
USF was led by Kwame Vaughn's 16 points and Dior Lowhorn chipped in 15 points with 10 rebounds.
In the first half Trasolini scored the first five Bronco points, including a three-pointer. Each time the Dons answered and took a 9-7 lead at 15:26 after a basket by Smith.
Santa Clara pieced together a 10-0 run from 17:00-12:25. Harrison hit three straight baskets to give Santa Clara a 13-9 lead at 13:00. A nifty pass by Troy Alexander to Ray Cowels gave Santa Clara a 15-9 lead at 12:25 before the Dons stopped the run to make it 15-11 SCU at 11:55.
Santa Clara jumped to a 19-11 lead at 10:19. Four Dons baskets and the game was back to 20-19 USF at 8:47 after the Dons only 8-0 run in a minute and a half. During that run, the first foul of the game was whistled on Cowels at 9:55.
A basket by Trasolini gave the Broncos the lead back at 8:20, 21-20 SCU.
Lowhorn was whistled for the Dons first foul of the game at 6:41 after Trasolini scored and then hit the free throw, giving SCU a 24-20 lead.
The two teams traded baskets and then two Trasolini free throws gave the Broncos a 28-23 lead at 4:08.
Santa Clara went from 5:00 to :50. Without a field goal when Michael Santos knocked down a three-pointer and then Smith hit one with less than six seconds left to make it 33-27 - the score at half-time.
SCU shot 50 percent in the first half with USF shooting 44.4 percent. Trasolini scored 12 points and Harrison and Cowels collected six each.
In the second half Santa Clara took a seven-point lead on two straight Trasolini baskets and led 37-30 at 18:14. Once again USF struck back, hitting two free throws and a three-pointer by Angelo Caloiaro at 17:15, with SCU up 37-35. But Trasolini continued to wrack up baskets, hitting two open shots to make it 41-35 at 16:13.
After a Harrison basket at 13:35 to make it 45-39, the Dons went on a 4-0 run. Cowels cut a three minute scoring drought with a basket at 10:43 with time winding down.
The Broncos took a 54-48 lead on two Ben Dowdell baskets with a free throw sandwiched between at 8:04. As before, the Dons answered with a basket to make it 54-50 at 7:59. Alexander made a aggressive play to the basket to put Santa Clara up 56-50 at 7:30.
Back-to-back baskets by Smith and Trasolini, right at the rim, gave Santa Clara a 60-50 lead with 5:32 left. A steal by Troy Payne and Harrison slammed it home for a dunk to give SCU a 62-50 lead, its largest of the game, at 4:45.
USF wasn't done yet. The Dons strung together a 12-2 from 4:45 - :14.7 when Trasolini sunk two free throws to give SCU a 66-62 lead.
Again, USF wouldn't go away when Caloiaro sunk his third three of the half to make it 66-65 SCU with just 8.2 left.
Santa Clara threw the ball out of bounds at :7.3 on the clock and then USF returned the favor when inbouding with :6.8 on the clock. Cowels missed on the front end of a one and one, but USF wasn't able to connect down the court and Santa Clara came away with its first league win of the year.