Coming off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 16 points, Bronco freshman Robert Smith helped Santa Clara defeat San Diego 59-43 on Saturday evening. Santa Clara is 10-16 and 2-6 in WCC play. San Diego is 9-16 and 2-7 in WCC play. Santa Clara returns home on Thurs., Feb. 11 to host LMU at 7 pm.
Coach Keating was pleased to see the team put together as close to a complete game as they have in awhile. "We were facing a team that lost one of its seniors to a terrible injury two nights ago but I was glad to see our guys step up and get a good win for us," said Keating. "We responded in the right way. I am proud of the guys tonight and look forward to returning to the Leavey Center for a three-game home stand."
Santa Clara shot 48.6 percent, including 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Broncos collected 30 rebounds, nine steals and five blocks with 15 turnovers. The Broncos scored 23 points off turnovers. San Diego shot 35.9 percent, including 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Toreros collected 24 rebounds, five steals and three blocks with 16 turnovers. They had no one in double figures and were led by Roberto Mafra's eight points off the bench.
Individually, Smith scored 16 points with four rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes. Raymond Cowels scored 11 points with a career-high four steals and Marc Trasolini collected a team-high seven rebounds. Trasolini had zero shot attempts, but was seven of 10 from the free throw line.
"Robert played aggressive and under control," said Keating. "He was taking shots in rhythm and has come an extremely long way. He is really figuring out his spots and played well coming off the bench to start. We didn't shoot our free throws very well tonight but with a short time prepared we worked a lot on the zone yesterday."
In the first half, both teams started slow offensively. Smith hit the Broncos first basket at 18:16 and between that Payne and Trasolini both missed two free throws each. San Diego got on the board with its first point when Chris Manresa hit a free throw at 16:13.
The two teams tied it up at 5-5 after they traded baskets and then Harrison dunked on an alley-oop from Cowels to take a 7-5 lead. Michael Santos took it to the basket for a score, was fouled and sunk the `and one' at 12:44 for a 10-7 Bronco lead.
San Diego tied it up 11-11 at 9:44 with a free throw. SCU, which came in second overall in league play at the free throw line, started 3 of 9 and USD was 3 of 8 from the charity stripe at 9:44.
Dowdell tied it 13-13 with a lay-up at 8:29. Brandon Johnson sank a three at the buzzer to put USD up 16-13 at 7:15.
Back-to-back Bronco baskets by Phillip Bach and Smith gave Santa Clara a 19-18 lead at 3:23. A Cowels three gave the Broncos a 22-19 lead over USD.
Trasolini, who was scoreless thus far, made both free throws at 1:00 to give SCU the lead again at 24-22. After a Toreros timeout they scored to tie it up 24-24. Santa Clara's Chris Cunningham a two-foot jumper with less than three seconds to go gave Santa Clara a 26-24 at the half.
Michael Santos opened the second half with a three pointer to give the Broncos a 29-24 lead. Dowdell hit a free throw to make it 30-24 SCU at 18:52. USD connected on a three (17:10).
Smith sunk a three from the top of the key at 15:00 and then a lay-up at 13:31 to make it 13:22. USD had seen enough and called timeout with the Broncos up 35-28.
Out of the timeout Cowels stole the ball and Smith hit another jumper to make it 37-28. Harrison blocked a Manresa ball and Smith came down to hit another three to make it 40-28 SCU at 11:03 when Bill Grier halted the Toreros play again with a timeout. Smith had scored the last 10 Bronco points on their 10-3 run.
Two Trasolini-made free throws and then two by Cowels made it 44-31 Broncos at 8:46.
A three by Cowels at 7:10 was followed by a dunk by Dowdell gave the Broncos a 49-33 lead at 6:40. Fouled in an attempt, Trasolini was seven of nine from the free throw line, but was yet to attempt a shot in the game (doesn't count as an attempt if fouled) to give the Broncos a 52-37 lead at 3:55.
"Marc has to understand he's a target and when teams play zone has to be ready," added Keating. "It's part of the maturation process."
Cowels' third three of the night, hitting the bottom of the net at the buzzer, gave the Broncos a 55-39 lead at 2:16.
Dowdell sank two free throws to make it 58-42 Broncos at 1:15.