Nov. 25, 2008
Athens, Ga. - Bronco senior John Bryant scored 24 points and freshman Kevin Foster added 21 off the bench, but it wasn't enough to overcome Arizona as Santa Clara fell 69-66 as part of the NIT Season Tipoff Consolation Bracket in Athens, Ga. Arizona moves to 3-1 and Santa Clara falls to 1-4. Arizona leads the series 5-4 now.
"We played hard. Our freshmen made some mistakes, but freshmen make mistakes - this tournament has been a real learning experience for all of us," said SCU Head Coach Kerry Keating. "Since I've been at Santa Clara we have lost 20 games, 15 of those have been two possession games. I have to get better, they have to get better - we all have to get better."
"The one thing we are gaining each game is experience with this young team," said Bryant. "We all have to keep working hard. The freshmen have to understand this isn't high school anymore, but they played hard and right now it's all about effort. We have to keep our heads up. Everybody has a job to do and everyone is giving 110%."
Bryant was 10 of 14 from the field, collecting eight rebounds and three blocks. Troy Alexander collected a career-high eight assists. SCU shot 53% from the field for the game, but the Wildcats shot 65%.
Arizona raced out to a 12-0 lead in the first half before Kevin Foster hit a three and Santa Clara went on a 9-2 run to pull within three at 12:54. Foster hit a three at 7:16 to tie up the game at 25-25 and then hit a three-pointer at 3:43 in the first half to take the lead at 32-31.
Santa Clara went to the lockerroom at the half up 38-36. The Broncos shot 56% in the first half to the Wildcats own 59%.
In the second half, Santa Clara went up by as many as eight at 18:08, but couldn't hold on. The Wildcats trailed the entire second half until a Jordan Hill slam dunk gave them a 67-66 lead with 2:09 left in the game. Jamelle Hill's dunk with 6.8 on the clock was the result of one of two Santa Clara turnovers in the game's final minutes, which helped to rally the Wildcats at the NIT Season Tipoff.
After an entry pass by Michael Santos intended for Bryant sailed out of bounds, Arizona took over possession. With 6.8 seconds remaining, Jamelle Horne scored a dunk to ice the win.
"I had a good vantage point on it," Keating said. "Michael made the wrong pass, but that was the play we wanted. But that is not why we lost the game. We had a seven-point lead and made three straight turnovers and turned it into a two-point game, a different kind of game."