Santa Clara erased Saint Mary's four-point halftime lead early in the second half with a three by Jared Brownridge and a bucket by Brandon Clark at 17:59. But Saint Mary's outscored the Broncos 17-4 over the next six plus minutes and finished off the Broncos 73-60 in their West Coast Conference opener.
Santa Clara is 5-7 and 0-1 in the WCC. Saint Mary's is 8-3 and 1-0 in the WCC. Santa Clara travels to Stockton to play Pacific on Mon., Dec. 29 at 7 pm.
The Broncos shot 36.8 percent from the field (21 of 57), including 30.4 percent from beyond the arc (7 of 23). The Broncos added 73.3 percent from the foul line (11 of 15). They collected 32 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, two blocks and 15 turnovers.
"We did a half way decent job of rebounding. But we had 15 turnovers and those hurt us," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "It's an on-going process to teach the guys how to play together. We have two guys playing out of position - at times three guys - with Yannick (Atanga) out for the year. We understand it's a long stretch and we are on the road and we have to get better every day. We have to trust it will pay off."
Clark scored 24, including five boards, four assists and two steals. Denzel Johnson added 10 points with three boards. Evan Wardlow had a career-high eight points off the bench. Brownridge and Matt Hubbard had seven points each with Hubbard leading the team with seven boards.
The Gaels shot 51.8 percent from the field (29 of 56), including 28.6 percent from beyond the arc (4 of 14). SMC added 57.9 percent from the foul line (11 of 19). They collected 36 rebounds, 15 assists, eight steals, one block and 11 turnovers.
The Gaels were led by Kerry Carter's double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds). Brad Waldow scored 20 points with nine boards and Garrett Jackson had 18. Emmett Naar added 12 with four assists. Dane Pineau had nine boards.
In the second half, after Saint Mary's 17-4 run, Clark sank two of three free throws at 11:34 to cut the Gaels lead to 10, 51-41.
Wardlow scored his eighth point at 10:24, a career-high. Waldow dunked it at 9:02 and then Jackson's basket inside at 8:19 gave SMC a 12 point lead again, 57-45.
Waldow's three-point play and a steal and a dunk by Jackson gave the Gaels a 19-point lead at 6:49, their largest lead of the day.
Clark scored inside at 5:30 and then beyond the arc at 4:21. Clark added a pair of free throws at 3:44 to give him 20+ points for the 18th time in his career.
A lay-up by Denzel Johnson pulled SCU within 12 at 2:58, 66-54 SMC. Clark dished it over Waldow for a bucket. Johnson crushed a three with 48 seconds left to cut the lead to 10, 70-60.
Saint Mary's led 34-30 at the half. Johnson opened the game with a three from the elbow at 19:30 and then Saint Mary's scored six straight. Clark tied it up when he drained a three at 17:10 and a pair of Brownridge free throws at 17:04 gave SCU a two-point lead.
Wardlow scored a pair of baskets between a three by Clark to put SCU up 15-14. A dandy pass by Wardlow was money for Pugh inside at 10:32 as SCU led 17-14.
Saint Mary's 7-0 run gave them the lead before Hubbard crushed a three at 6:00. The teams traded baskets with Pugh scoring from nine feet out at 5:16 with SMC up 23-22.
Naar laid it in at 4:03 and then Brownridge, who went to the bench when he picked up his second foul at 14:39, scored inside at 3:45 to cut the SMC lead to three.
Hubbard hit two pairs of free throws in the final minute of the second half to pull SCU within four, but Waldow scored on the miss. Johnson drove inside to cut it to four again, 34-30, with 23 seconds left in the first half.
NOTES: Starters for the Broncos (career starts): Brandon Clark (49), Jarvis Pugh (10), Denzel Johnson (23), Jared Brownridge (45) and Matt Hubbard (10) ... Emmanuel Ndumanya played seven minutes - his first action in nine games.