Broncos Hold Off Spartans Behind Career-High 23 Points From Brandon Clark

Brandon Clark
Brandon Clark

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara men's basketball team withstood a late San Jose State rally and defeated their cross-town rivals for the 10th time in the last 12 meetings with an 89-77 triumph on Tuesday behind a career-high 23 points from Brandon Clark and a double-double performance from Jerry Brown at Leavey Center.

"We showed a lot of depth tonight. We are still working to get the new guys to gel and working to adapt to the new rules," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating.  "Julian Clarke and Denzel Johnson really stepped up tonight.  It was a great team effort.  San Jose State is working hard under their new coach. This game between our two teams is not going to get any easier. They are young, younger than us, but they are talented."

For the game Santa Clara shot 46.7% from the field (28-of-60), including 37.5% percent from beyond the arc (6-of-16).  The Broncos collected 42 rebounds, 4 steals, 15 assists, 3 blocks and 11 turnovers.  San Jose State shot 43.6 from the field (24-of-55), including 30.4% percent from beyond the arc (7-of-23).  The Spartans collected 34 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 blocks, 12 assists and 15 turnovers.

Santa Clara held a double-digit lead from 10:44 of the first half until just under five minutes remained in the second half when the Spartans went on a 15-2 run to whittle Santa Clara's lead from 22 points to nine. The Broncos were able to convert free throws down the stretch to put the game away.

Clark netted a career-high in points by converting 5 of 13 field goals and 11 of 14 free throws. He added four rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes.  

Brown added 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double while Jared Brownridge scored 15 points and Denzel Johnson added 11. Yannick Atanga hauled down 10 rebounds and briefly left the court to get fingers on his right hand taped after a collision on the floor with a San Jose State player.

The Broncos took an early lead when Brownridge hit a jumper from the elbow less than a minute in and Santa Clara never trailed. San Jose State tied the game at 2-2 on former Bronco Chris Cunningham's bucket in the lane, but the Broncos pulled away by playing stifling defense.

San Jose State went nearly six and half minutes without a field goal and could have seen the deficit get even larger, but the Spartans converted 9-of-11 free throws over that span and stayed within striking distance.

"We turned up the defensive pressure tonight," said Clark. "We created our offensive intensity on the defensive end by making plays."

Santa Clara grabbed its first double-digit lead of the game when Brownridge dazzled the crowd with a reverse layup giving the Broncos a 20-10 advantage at 10:44 and sparking a 9-2 run that also included a pair of monster dunks from Brown.

Brown's first dunk came off a nice entry pass from Clark and Nate Kratch followed with his first career three-point basket giving the Broncos a 25-10 advantage with just under 10 minutes to play in the half. His second dunk of the run gave SCU a 15-point lead at 27-12 with 9:15 left.

Brown was asked about the dunks after the game.  "It's all of us being aggressive," said Brown.  "The team is looking for me and it makes my job easy. I just had to finish.  We are going to be the type of team that can play with a lot of depth.  We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things."

The Broncos carried a 42-28 lead into the intermission holding the Spartans to 29.2 percent shooting.

The Broncos maintained their double digit lead throughout most of the second half and got the bulge to 20 points following a put back in the lane and a pair of free throws by Brown for a 63-43 lead with 13:04 remaining. Brown converted 1 of 2 free throws with 9:14 left staking the Broncos to a 22-point advantage, their largest of the night, at 71-49.

But San Jose State came alive and used its 15-2 run over the next four minutes to slice the lead under 10 points for the first time since the middle of the first. Walk-on Dylan Alexander hit a pair of threes and Cunningham added another to pull the Spartans within 73-64 with 4:50 remaining.

NOTES: Santa Clara used the same starting five from the season opener - Brandon Clark, Jalen Richard, Jared Brownridge, John McArthur and Yannick Atanga ... This was the 104th all time meeting between the schools  ... Marc Trasolini was the last Bronco to record a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds vs. Portland on Jan. 31, 2013 ... Yannick Atanga had the 11th double-digit rebound game of his career ... The Broncos have won seven straight and nine of their last 10 games played at Leavey Center ... G Evan Roquemore missed his second consecutive game with a sore back ... Chris Cunningham started for SJSU and scored the team's first four points, two coming off a two-hand slam with 17:21 left in the first half ... A total of 23 personal fouls were called in the first half and five players on each team had two at the break ... San Jose's Jaleel Williams scored the Spartans' first 8 points of the second half and ended with a career-high 20.

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