Broncos Stay Alive In WCC Tourney

March 6, 2004

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Kyle Bailey matched his career high with 30 points, and Santa Clara advanced to the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament with an 81-75 victory over San Francisco on Saturday night.

Travis Niesen scored 12 points for the Broncos (16-15), who maintained a late lead in front of their raucous home crowd at the Leavey Center. Bailey, a junior guard, made three 3-pointers, then hit six free throws in the final 44 seconds as the Broncos held on.

In the semifinals Saturday night, Santa Clara will face top-seeded Gonzaga, which went unbeaten in conference play while rising to No. 4 in the nation. Pepperdine, which beat Loyola Marymount 78-67 earlier Saturday, will meet second-seeded Saint Mary's in the other semifinal.

The Broncos wore their road uniforms as the fifth seed against fourth-seeded San Francisco, but they fed off the energy from the partisan crowd.

Santa Clara finished the regular season with five losses in its final six games, but the Broncos trounced San Diego 82-48 in the tournament opener Friday. Against Gonzaga, they'll need all the help they can get from the student section, which chanted "Bring on the Bulldogs!" in the final minute.

J.R. Patrick hit a 3-pointer with 2:01 left, giving Santa Clara a 73-67 lead. James Bayless cut into the lead on a layup with 1:09 to play, but Bailey's free throws kept the Broncos out of trouble.

Bayless had 27 points and eight rebounds for the Dons (17-14), who closed the regular season on a 3-4 skid before losing their tournament opener. Alvin Broussard added 14 points, and Andre Hazel had 10 points and six assists.

Hazel hit a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to tie the game at 39, running across the court and into San Francisco's locker room with his cocked wrist still held high above his head.

San Francisco scored nine consecutive points midway through the second half while Bayless was on the bench, but the Broncos surged back ahead with nine straight points of their own.

Doron Perkins scored nine points and played tough defense for Santa Clara, but he missed four straight free throws in the final minutes to keep it close.