SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Driven by fifth-year senior Marc Trasolini, Santa Clara picked up its fourth straight victory with a 72-64 home win over Cal Poly on Monday night at the Leavey Center. The Broncos picked up its ninth victory of the year to enter the school's annual 46th Cable Car Classic on Dec. 21-22 with a 9-2 record. It is the first time the Broncos have started the season 9-2 since the 1988-89 season.
Bronco head coach Kerry Keating said the team is over-focused right now, only thinking about the game they are playing in, playing one game at a time. "We want to leave every night 1-0," said Keating. "Tomorrow we will start our game prep for the Cable Car Classic and our first opponent, Alcorn State."
With about nine minutes to go and the Bronco bigs struggling a bit, Santa Clara went to 4 guards and one forward - a move that seemed to work. "We worked to get our guards in the flow of the game more at that point. It's something we have worked on a lot in practice, but haven't used very much in games," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "They are a pretty good team and the undersized line-up was pretty good for us tonight in the second half."
Santa Clara (9-2) was led by Trasolini, who led all scorers with 24, while also tallying seven boards and three blocks. Evan Roquemore, Raymond Cowels III and Kevin Foster also scored in double figures, 16, 12 and 10, respectively.
"In the second half we tried to get in the paint and score. And luckily we made our free throws," said Roquemore.
Cal Poly (4-5) was led by Chris Eversley who recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while also notching five assists. It was his fourth this season and sixth in his career. Brian Bennett was the only other Mustang to score in double figures, adding 10 points.
Santa Clara shot 46.7 percent (21 of 45), including 43.8 percent beyond the arc (7 of 16). The Broncos collected 30 rebounds, 19 assists, 11 blocks, eight steals and had 11 turnovers. They shot 78.3 percent from the free throw line (23 of 28). Cal Poly shot 47.1 percent (24 of 51), including 38.9 percent beyond the arc (7 of 18). Cal Poly collected 25 rebounds, 17 assists, one block, five steals and had 13 turnovers. The Mustangs shot 75 percent from the free throw line (9 of 11).
After winning the opening tipoff, Cal Poly's Bennett netted the first points of the game with two easy points in the paint. On the Broncos' first possession, Trasolini countered to even the score. After tallying a steal, Cowels III knocked down two free throws to give the Broncos an early 4-2 lead. The Broncos continued to play good defense early as Robert Garrett and Trasolini tallied blocks on two consecutive Cal Poly possessions. Eversley evened the game at 6-6, then knocked down a three to give the Mustangs a 9-6 lead. On Santa Clara's next possession, Roquemore converted the rare four-point play after being fouled on a three-pointer that found its way into the net. With 14:26 remaining in the half, Santa Clara led 10-9.
After the timeout, the teams heated up from behind the arc trading a combined seven-consecutive three-point field goals. Foster stripped Drake and knocked down his first triple of the contest. Following a defensive stop, Cowels III drained another three. A Cal Poly turnover resulted in Foster knocking down his second from downtown which gave Santa Clara a 19-9 lead.
Cal Poly responded with its own sharp shooting as Kyle Odister and Dylan Royer cut the SCU lead to 19-15 with triples of their own.
Brandon Clark responded for the Broncos with another three. Entering the second TV timeout, the Broncos led 22-15.
Up 24-18 with five minutes in the half, Eversley cut the Santa Clara lead to 24-20 with a second-chance opportunity in the paint. Trasolini answered with two from down low. Brian Bennett countered for the Mustangs with two of his own. With 2:53 remaining in the period, Santa Clara held a slim four-point advantage 26-22.
Trasolini knocked down Santa Clara's sixth triple of the half; the fifth-year senior added two from the charity stripe to stretch Santa Clara's lead to 31-22. Cal Poly responded with seven straight points to cut the Broncos' lead to 31-29 entering intermission.
In the first half, Santa Clara shot 44.5 percent (10 of 2), including 60 percent beyond the arc (6 of 10). The Broncos collected 11 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks, four steals and had six turnovers. They were perfect from the free throw line (5 of 5). Cal Poly shot 50 percent (12 of 24), including 44.4 percent beyond the arc (4 of 9). The Mustangs collected 13 rebounds, 10 assists, one block, three steals and had eight turnovers. The Mustangs converted their one free throw of the half.
After the break, Garrett notched his second block with an assertive block of U'u from behind. Jamal Johnson evened the contest with a long-range jumper. Royer and Eversley teamed up on a give-and-go that allowed Royer to convert the easy layup to take the lead, 33-31.
Trasolini evened the contest with a hook shot. On the other end, Trasolini stuffed Bennett go give the Broncos possession. He then knocked down one of two from the charity stripe to give Santa Clara one-point advantage, but Odister continued his hot hand from behind the arc, knocking down a three-pointer. On the ensuing Santa Clara possession, Roquemore muscled in a layup despite being fouled. The junior added the free throw to give Santa Clara a one-point margin.
Eversley got a contested layup to fall to swing one-point lead in the Mustangs favor. Clark evened the game with a free-throw before Johnson put Cal Poly up two with a layup. The lead didn't last long as Roquemore raced the length of the court and slammed it home in transition, forcing Cal Poly to use a timeout. With 14:02 left in the game, the Broncos and Mustangs were deadlocked 40-40.
Cal Poly took its first lead in the second half (33-31) at 18:00 and held it, with seven ties laced in between, until Roquemore made two sets of back-to-back free throws at 8:34 and 8:10 (54-50). Raymond Cowels III had a three at 7:27 to make it 57-50. The Broncos went on a 19-4 run from 9:48-1:20 to go up 67-54.
The teams traded baskets for roughly six minutes until the eight-minute mark. With the Mustangs already in the double bonus, Santa Clara used its free-throw opportunities to build a lead. The Tied 50-50, Roquemore knocked down two pair of free throws to give Santa Clara a 54-50 lead. After a defensive stop, Cowels III drained a three-pointer to extend the SCU lead to 57-50. After a pair of Cal Poly free throws, Trasolini knocked down a jumper, then added a two-handed jam to push Santa Clara's lead to nine. Eversley continued to fuel the Mustang offensive effort, adding two in the paint. and added two in the paint. With 4:03 left, Santa Clara led 61-54.
Cowels III added a second-chance layup that gave Santa Clara an 11-point advantage.
Santa Clara closed out the remaining two minutes to pick up a 72-64 victory.