Rallying from 16 down in the second half, Santa Clara pushed rival San Francisco to overtime, but it wasn't enough as the Dons defeated Santa Clara for just the second time in 10 tries, winning 71-68. Santa Clara travels to Gonzaga on Feb. 25 and then Portland on Feb. 27 to close out regular season WCC play.
SCU is now 11-18 and 3-9 in the WCC while USF moves to 12-15 and 4-8 in the WCC.
"I'm proud of our effort in the second half," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "We were down 16 and we fought back but we shouldn't have been in that position. We need five guys playing hard on the floor at all times. When we don't and we have to substitute we mess up our rotations switching people in and out. We had some shots fall to help us, but in the end we weren't good enough on the defensive end."
Santa Clara shot 36.2 percent, including 18.2 percent from beyond the arc. It collected 40 rebounds, seven steals and four blocks with 13 turnovers. USF shot 47.2 percent, including 63.2 percent from beyond the arc. The Dons collected 35 rebounds, seven steals and three blocks with 18 turnovers.
Individually Santa Clara was led by Marc Trasolini's 17 points and six rebounds. Ben Dowdell scored 13 points, Michael Santos 11 and Troy Payne 10. Robert Smith collected nine points, a career-high seven assists and a career-high eight rebounds.
Troy Payne got the Broncos on the board to start the game with a layup at 18:31. Payne then gave the Broncos a 4-2 lead with two free throws at 17:59.
Trasolini put one in to make it 7-6 Dons at 16:51. Santos' two-foot jumper at 14:49 gave the Broncos back the lead at 8-7. Ray Cowels added to the lead with a three-pointer at the top of the key at 13:20, making it 11-7 Broncos.
Trasolini followed Cowels three with one of his own and put the Broncos up 14-7 at 12:15. The Dons stopped the Broncos 10 point run with a basket at 12:01, 14-9 Broncos. Ben Dowdell followed the media timeout with a five-foot jumper to make it 16-9 Broncos at 11:24.
The Dons put together a 7-0 run of their own to tie it up 16-16 at 9:11. Payne grabbed his own rebound and put it in for two, but Wallace made his second three of the night to make it 19-18 Dons at 8:15.
Smith scored his first points of the night to give Santa Clara a 20-19 lead at 5:43. The Dons scored five straight to take a 24-20 lead at 4:03. Trasolini hit a six-foot jumper to bring it back to 24-22 3:35.
Santos skipped in the lane untouched and scored o Cowel's first assist of the night to scored at 3:10 and make it 24-24. Trasolini blocked a Vaughn shot and Dowdell was fouled on the offensive end, sinking a free throw to give the Broncos a 25-24 lead at 2:32. Wallace came down and hit his third three of the night to give the Dons a 27-25 lead at 2:07.
After a Dons missed, Trasolini scored on a put-back to tie it up 27-27 at 1:32. Dowdell charged in the lane to lay it up and tie it up at 29-29 with 49.0 Lowhorn hit a three to make it 32-29 Dons with :26.1 left, the score at the half.
Trasolini led the Broncos in the first half with nine points and five rebounds. Lowhorn had 13 and Wallace collected nine.
The Dons came out shooting lights out in the second half, collecting four three pointers on four shots in the less than four minutes, taking a 46-35 lead at 15:46 when Keating halted play with a quick timeout to regroup.
Santos hit a basket under the rim at 13:57, was fouled and hit the free throw to make it 46-38 Dons. A Trasolini free throw at 12:25 made it 50-39 Dons; and then Payne sank two to make it 50-41 Dons at 12:00.
The Dons went on a 7-1 run when Chris Cunningham laid it in to stop Santa Clara' four-minute scoring drought at 8:07. The Broncos grabbed a defensive rebound and scored again immediately to make it 57-45 Dons.
Down 57-41 at 8:32, the Broncos then went on an 18-2 run until 2:37 to tie it up. The Broncos scored seven straight to make it 59-57 at 3:21 before the Dons turned it over under their own basket. Santa Clara was paced in the run by a three by Smith, a basket by Trasolini and another ball laid in for two by Smith.
After the media timeout, Dowdell was fouled and sank two free throws to tie it up 59-59 at 2:54. Caloiaro sank a three at 2:37 to end the Dons drought, making it 62-59 Dons. Moustapha Diarra then sank a free throw to make it 63-59 Dons and Dowdell answered with his 11th point of the night to make it 63-61 Dons at 1:31.
Smith was fouled in the key at 1:04 and sank both to tie it up 63-63. USF whistled for a timeout with 38.5 left on the clock and 10 seconds on the shot clock. USF missed on its attempt as did Santa Clara, but Rashad Green booted the defensive rebound out of bounds to give it back to Santa Clara.
Keating called timeout to set up a last-second play but Santa Clara was unable to get the ball off and overtime was on the way, with the score knotted 63-63. It was Santa Clara's first overtime game of the year.
In overtime both teams missed on their first attempts and then Caloiaro hit one of two free throws to give the Dons a one point lead at 3:47 before Wallace sank his fourth three of night to make it 67-63 Dons. Dowdell came back to hit a jumper and make it 67-65 Dons at 2:41.
USF called timeout at 1:48 and scored on Lowhorn's 26th point of the night to make it 69-65 Dons.
Trasolini battled hard under the basket to score a basket at 53.1 and then sank the free throw to make it 69-68 Dons.
With the shot clock down to eight seconds and nothing doing, Wallace signaled timeout for the Dons. After the full timeout with 25.6 left the Dons missed and Santa Clara brought the ball down and called timeout with 11.1 left in overtime, down one.
Smith attempted a shot, which was short and Dowdell fouled Lowhorn with :00.7 left on the clock. Lowhorn made one free throw and Santa Clara got it down the court to attempt a last second shot, but Dowdell's three was just off, hiting the rim and bouncing off.
Final score, USF 71-68.