SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Senior Brandon Clark scored a game high 31 points, his third career 30+ point game, and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds leading the Broncos to a season-opening 89-72 win over Cal State Fullerton at Leavey Center on Friday night. Santa Clara remains at home Saturday night when the Broncos host San Diego Christian at 7 pm.
Clark's point was just one short of his career-best and he reached that total by making (15) and attempting (16) career-highs in free throws. Denzel Johnson added 15 points and freshman Matt Hubbard scored 11. Emmanuel Ndumanya snared a game-high 8 rebounds.
The Broncos shot 49.1 percent from the field (27 of 55), including 68.8 percent from beyond the arc (11 of 16). The Broncos added 77.4 percent from the foul line (24 of 31). They corralled 36 rebounds, 13 assists, 6 steals, 2 blocks and 8 turnovers. The Titans shot 37.9 percent from the field (22 of 58), including 39.1 percent from deep (9 of 23). From the foul line, they shot 67.9 percent (19 of 28). They tallied 39 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 14 turnovers.
"We needed our freshmen to show some maturity tonight with an early injury to Yannick and Jared getting in some foul trouble," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "Brandon has been a really good free throw shooter througout his career and he showed that again tonight."
Lanerryl Johnson led the Titans with 19 points, hitting 3 of 5 threes, Moses Morgan scored 16 and four rebounds while Joe Boyd scored 12 points with seven rebounds.
Jarvis Pugh put the Broncos up just 32 seconds in scoring his first bucket as a Bronco.
A 3-pointer by Morgan put the Titans up 6-5 early, but the Broncos responded with a 12-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 17-6 lead. Hubbard was a key part of the surge scoring seven points during the run, including his first 3-point basket on his first attempt. He ended the run by hitting a mid-range jumper giving the Broncos an 11-point advantage at the 11:24 mark.
A pair of Kennedy Esume free throws ended the run, but the Broncos replied with three pointers from Johnson and Clark on consecutive possessions to push the lead to 23-8 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
Threes from Nate Kratch and Johnson were sandwiched around a Clark layup and the 8-0 run lifted the Broncos advantage to 20 at 33-13 with five minutes to play in the half.
Santa Clara held a double-digit lead through the first 8 ½ minutes of the second half with Clark scoring six points.
The Titans were able to cut the deficit below 10 for the first time since midway through the first when Morgan drained a three from the corner pulling CSF within 54-45 with 11:29 left in the game.
Edwards converted a traditional 3-point play hitting a lay up in the lane and adding the free throw after being fouled by Josh Gentry. Clark forced a turnover on the next Titan's possession and made a pair of free throws at the other end and Johnson nailed a three to cap another 8-0 Santa Clara, run lifting the lead to 17 at 62-45.
Morgan scored the next five points for the Titans getting them back within 12 at 62-50 and Boyd got a layup and one to close the gap to 66-59 with 7:32 left.
The teams traded baskets until Clark drained his second three of the game giving the Broncos a 77-65 lead with just under three minutes left.
Santa Clara hit seven of nine free throws in the last two minutes and Jared Brownridge hit a three with 30 seconds left to beat the shot clock giving the Broncos the win.
Notes: Starters for the Broncos (career number of starts): Brandon Clark (38), Jared Brownridge (34), Denzel Johnson (12), Jarvis Pugh (1), Yannick Atanga (40) ... Johnson made 3 3-pt baskets. He made four all of last season ... Pugh, Evan Wardlow, Stephen Edwards, Matt Hubbard and Emmanuel Ndumanya all made their debuts as a Bronco ... The Broncos shot 68.8% (11 of 16) from 3-pt range with six different players making a three.