Dec. 14, 2009
Santa Clara, the eighth-youngest team in the country, continued to grow tonight as it built a 16-point lead in the second half, but had to hang on to win 68-65 at Houston Baptist. Santa Clara is 6-4 and Houston Baptist is 1-9. Santa Clara plays at Rice on Wed., Dec. 16 before returning home for an eight-game homestand.
Santa Clara shot 51.1 percent - its best shooting night of the season, including 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Broncos had 34 rebounds, nine steals and one block. Houston Baptist shot 37.5 percent, including 11.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Huskies grabbed 34 rebounds and added eight steals and four blocks.
Individually, Santa Clara put five players in double figures for the first time this season. Santa Clara was led by Niyi Harrison's career-high 15 points and eight rebounds. Robert Smith added 12 with five assists and three steals. A trio of Broncos finished with 11: Marc Trasolini, Raymond Cowels and Ben Dowdell. It was Smith's sixth straight game in double figures.
In the first half the two teams knotted it up three times before HBU took a 13-9 lead at 14:20 on a three by Andrew Gonzalez. Santa Clara took a 14-13 after Robert Smith sunk a three (13:46) and Ben Dowdell hit two free throws (13:22).
The two switched turns leading twice before Cowels hit two straight threes to give SCU a 23-19 at 8:35. Michael Santos made it 25-20 at 8:01 on a floater to the rim.
Santa Clara took a 39-30 lead into the final minute of the first half after Smith hit two more free throws and Dowell and Harrison connected on jumpers. Two turnovers that turned into baskets and HBU got within five at the buzzer.
Santa Clara was led by Dowdell's 11 points at the half. Cowels had eight and Smith scored seven. The Huskies were led by Wendall Preadom's nine points.
Santa Clara came out shooting in the second half, taking a 10 point lead at the 16:13. They went up 14 on back-to-back put-backs by Harrison at 14:32 and 13:12.
The Broncos went up 16 at 13:12 on a break-away layup by Michael Santos, making it 56-40. But the Huskies weren't done yet as HBU pulled within seven at 8:06 after a 7-0 run.
Harrison hit two free throws to put the Broncos back up by 9, 60-51 at 7:40. Trasolini added another free throw to make it 61-51 Broncos at 7:00.
Santa Clara struggled with holding onto the ball and the Huskies continued to chip away at the Bronco lead, getting within six at 5:23. Smith hung a ball over the rim to give Santa Clara an eight point lead at 4:55, but just as quick HBU scored to make it 63-57 and two straight traveling violations by the Broncos gave the ball back at 4:04 and 3:36 with SCU up 63-57.
The Huskies continued to crawl, hitting five free throws down the stretch to make it 64-63 Broncos with 1:10 to go. A steal by Santos led to a Trasolini basket at :45.0 and Trasolini missed the free throw to make it 66-63 in the final minute. After a Huskie basket, they quickly fouled Smith to put him at the line for two with 17 ticks left on the clock. Smith sank both to make it 68-65 Santa Clara.
HBU called a full timeout at 14.4 down three to draw up a play, but couldn't connect as the Broncos won 68-65.