Broncos Drop Season-Opener to Veteran Utah State Squad

Nov. 17, 2000

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Santa Clara men's basketball team scored more field goals and three-pointers than its opponent in Friday's season-opening 76-67 loss to Utah State. However, the Aggies whopping 43-18 advantage in attempts from the free throw line proved to be the difference in the first round of the Top of the World Classic.

Santa Clara will face Davidson at 3 p.m. (Pacific) in the event's second round. The Wildcats lost its first round game by a 96-70 margin in Friday's first game. The two teams have never met on the basketball court.

Santa Clara junior forward Justin Holbrook (Cottage Grove, Ore.) scored a career-high 26 points, while also setting career standards for three-point field goals and attempts on 6-for-9 shooting from behind the arc. Senior guard Brian Jones (Carson, Calif.) was the only other Bronco in double figures with 19 points.

"I think you really have to credit Utah State," said Santa Clara Head Coach Dick Davey. "They are an intelligent, experience and organized team that is very well coached. We were outplayed technically and they were tougher in the heat of the battle. We hope we will be able to perform at that same level as the season progresses. They were much better at handling duress and we are still trying to figure out who we are right now."

Santa Clara jumped out to a 15-5 lead on a jumper by junior guard Brian Vaka (Sparks, Nev.) at the 14:03 mark of the first half. Holbrook scored three treys during the early run, while the Bronco defense caused six Utah State turnovers.

Following a 10-2 run by Utah State over the next four minutes, the two teams played virtually even until Aggie guard Bernard Rock scored on a layup with just :20 left in the half to give Utah State a 32-29 halftime lead.

The Broncos started the second half much like the first, outscoring Utah State by a 16-7 margin to take a 45-39 lead on a Jones jumper at the 14:30 mark. Following a jumper by Jeremy Vague that pulled Utah State to within four points, the Aggies attempted 31 free throws during the next 13:17. Fourteen of Utah State's last 16 points in the game were from the free throw line.

"Our coaches really scouted them well," said guard Kyle Bailey. "We played them really well until the latter part of the second half. We just didn't make the plays we needed to and things just didn't go our way. That's our fault."

Bailey (Fairbanks, Alaska) received an enthusiastic response from the crowd when he entered the game with 17:01 left in the first half. Bailey, a freshman from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, scored the first basket of his college career on a floater from eight-feet out that gave Santa Clara a 17-9 lead with 12:28 left in the first half.

"Coming home to play was truly an enjoyable experience, especially having my teammates with me," said Bailey, who finished the game with nine points and four assists in 27 minutes of action. "It makes it even more fun that everybody is so excited to have me play here. I was a bit nervous and sometimes a bit overexcited. I think after I calmed down a little bit, I played all right.

"Being at Santa Clara has been really enjoyable. It is a beautiful school and we have a great basketball program. Academically it is definitely challenging. That makes the basketball even more enjoyable because you get both parts of the experience."

Bailey is one of four first-year players to see action for Santa Clara in the game. At one point in the first half, the Broncos featured a lineup that included Bailey, freshman guard Jason Morrissette (Los Angels, Calif.) and junior transfer Jason Westphal together in the game.

Noteworthy: Senior Jamie Holmes (Merced, Calif.) fouled out of the game with :59 seconds left on the clock. That marked only the second time in his Bronco career that Holmes has fouled out of a game ... Santa Clara finished the game with five players with four or more fouls ... Santa Clara shot a better percentage from the three-point line than from the field in the game. The Broncos connected on 11-of-29 three-point attempts for a .379 percentage, while shooting just .344 from the field ... Santa Clara made 21 field goals in the game, compared to 20 for Utah State ... Santa Clara's 11 three-pointers were also six more than the Aggies' five in the game ... The Bronco defense forced 19 Utah State turnovers ... A total of 13 Santa Clara players saw action in the game, the entire squad that suited up ... Sophomore forward Andre Bobbitt did not suit-up due to a slightly torn calf muscle ... Brian Jones moved into a tie with Londale Theus (1976-80) for seventh-place on the Santa Clara list for career games started with 86.