Santa Clara continues its four-game homestand on Thurs., Jan. 22 when it hosts the LMU Lions. The 8 pm game will be telecast on Comcast California with Barry Tompkins and Dan Belluomini making the call. The game will also be broadcast live on KDOW 1220 AM and the Bronco website, SantaClaraBroncos.com, as part of the Bronco Radio Network. Anthony Passarelli is in his eighth season as the Broncos' play-by-play announcer.
Santa Clara is 9-10 and 3-4 in the WCC. The Broncos are 6-3 at home this season, including 2-2 in the WCC. After scoring 61 or less seven straight games, Santa Clara has scored 70+ points in the past two games (77 vs. St. Katherine; 70 vs. USF). SCU is 4-1 this season when scoring 70+ and 44-28 under Kerry Keating the past eight years.
LMU is 5-14 and 1-6 in the WCC. LMU has won just two of its last 14 contests. The Lions are 0-6 on the road this year, including 0-2 in league play. The Lions have one player averaging double figures: Evan Payne (18.8 ppg). Godwin Okonji leads the team with 5.8 rpg and 1.1 bpg.
Santa Clara leads the LMU series 86-57, but the Lions have won five of the last seven games. Last season SCU won 86-81 at home in overtime (1-4-14). LMU returned the favor with a 75-71 victory in Los Angeles (2-27-14). The two teams have split the season series the last two years with the home team winning each game. LMU knocked the Broncos out of the 2013 WCC Tournament with a 60-58 victory (3-6-13).
Looking Back To Saturday
Meeting for the 215th time in series history, Santa Clara withstood a second half surge from USF to finish with a 70-64 victory on Jan. 17 in Santa Clara. The Broncos' backcourt tandem of Brandon Clark and Jared Brownridge combined for 41 points to propel Santa Clara to its ninth victory of the season. Clark led all scorers with 23 points, nailing a season-high four triples. It was the 20th time in two years he has scored 20+. He also added eight rebounds to go along with five assists. Brownridge finished with 18 points and six boards, hitting a career-best 10 of 11 from the free throw line. Denzel Johnson rounded out the double digit SCU scorers with 11 points and five assists.
USF shot 18.2 percent from three point land (4 of 22) and 58.3 percent from the foul line (14 of 24). Kruize Pinkins led the Dons with 16 points and 7 boards and Mark Tollefsen added another double-double, scoring 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Playing in Tinseltown at LMU didn't seem to phase No. 3 Gonzaga much on Jan. 17 as the Zags opened the game with a 20-2 run. The Lions cut the lead to seven a couple times, but couldn't get closer and lost 72-55. Ayodeji Egbeyemi led the Lions in scoring for the second straight game with 14 points. Leading scorer Evan Payne and Petr Herman both scored 11 points. Gonzaga's Gary Bell Jr. led all scorers with 17 and Kevin Pangos added 16.
Top Scoring Back-Court Returns
The Broncos return the WCC's top-scoring back-court in Brandon Clark and Jared Brownridge. Clark is averaging 15.5 ppg after scoring 16.9 ppg in 2013-14. Brownridge is averaging 14.2 ppg after leading the team with 17.2 ppg last year. Both have scored in double figures 15 times this year. Clark has led the team in scoring nine times, Brownridge eight, Matt Hubbard twice and Nate Kratch once. Denzel Johnson and Jalen Richard both had a team-high 13 points at Portland to finish out the game scoring leaders.
Brownridge works as an EyeBronco reporter for the SCU Media Relations office and hosts his own series: "Long Walks With Jared". With a couple cameras filming their conversation, Brownridge walks around the picturesque Mission campus interviewing his subject. He is scheduled to interview WCC Commissioner Lynn Holzman on Jan. 21 with an early February release. He has interviewed teammates Dominic Romeo and Brandon Clark; and Dec. 19 he interviewed the SCU President, Father Michael Engh.
Hubbard leads the team with 4.8 rpg and Clark paces the offense with 3.9 apg. Kratch is the team's leading shot blocker with 0.57 bpg and Denzel Johnson grabs the most steals with 1.4 spg.
Brandon Clark played in his 120th career game vs. USF, starting 56 of those games. Clark has scored 20+ points in seven games this season, including 22 vs. St. Katherine on Jan. 13 and 23 vs. USF on Jan. 17. Clark has scored double figures 61 times in his career, including 20 games with 20 or more points the past two years. His first two seasons he never scored more than 19. He has also scored 30 or more three times during his career, including a season-high 31 points vs. CSU-Fullerton on Nov. 14.
Clark had his streak of 25 straight games in double figures snapped at Utah State when he scored nine. The streak dated back to Dec. 13, 2013. It was the longest streak for a Bronco since Travis Niesen scored double figures in 22 straight games (Feb. 5, 2005-Jan. 21, 2006).
Clark is just the sixth player in school history to score 1,300+ career points and dish out 360+ career assists, joining Kevin Foster, Brian Jones, Steve Nash, Evan Roquemore and Kyle Bailey. He became the 20th Bronco in school history to score 1,300 points when he added 22 vs. St. Katherine on Jan. 13. He needs 64 points to pass No. 15 Nick Vanos (1,399, 1981-85).
Clark joined the 1,000 career points scored list last season when he scored 18 points at Pepperdine on March 1, 2014. He is moving up four other career lists as well. Clark is No. 10 on the career list with 144 threes made; No. 9 on the career threes attempted with 407; and No. 10 with 361 career assists. With two more games played he will jump into the top 10 list in that category as well, tying Brody Angley (2004-08) and Burley (1985-89) at 122 career games played.
He was 9 of 9 from the free throw line vs. USF. He is shooting 86.7 percent this season from the line (85 of 98). Clark is No. 3 all-time in free throw percentage. He has made 352 of 419 free throws attempted, good for 84.0 percent. The school record is held by Steve Nash (86.1 percent, 1991-96).
Clark was named the WCC Player of the Week on Nov. 17, 2014. He set a school record for points scored in a season opener with 31, including 15 of 16 from the line, in the Broncos' win vs. CSU Fullerton on Nov. 14. He had four career bests on the weekend as well. He was 15 of 16 from the free throw line vs. the Titans - marking a career best in makes and attempts. He is the only the seventh Bronco in school history to make 15+ free throws in a game. He scored 21 points vs. SDC on Nov. 15, collecting a career-high nine assists.
North of the Border
Matt Hubbard is the only Bronco on the active roster with a double-double. With 12 points and a career-high 11 boards, he snared the first of his career vs. San Diego on Jan. 3. With almost 60 family and friends in the stands, Hubbard tied a career-high with 15 points at No. 6/7 Gonzaga on Jan. 10, matching his output at Pacific on Dec. 29. He made five threes in nine tries up at the Kennel, also personal bests. Starting 17 games this season, he leads the team with 4.8 rpg.
As a youngster, Hubbard was like many children, competing in a variety of sports including basketball, baseball, soccer, football and swimming. Hubbard proved to be quite a swimmer at a young age. Living close to the Canadian border, he traveled 25 miles north with his team, the Colville Sharks, for swim meets as part of the British Columbia Summer Swimming Association. As an eight year old he won the Canadian district meet in three events to advance to the Provincial Championships in Burnaby, B.C. At the National meet in August of 2004, Hubbard wore a U.S.A. swimming cap and won both the 50m breaststroke and 50m freestyle titles and finished fourth in the 100 freestyle. "I played a lot of sports. I really liked basketball and after awhile I got tired of swimming," said Hubbard. But said he does wonder what might have happened if he had stuck with it.
The 2014 WCC Newcomer of the Year, Jared Brownridge has started every game he has played in the past two years (52 straight). He has scored double figures 41 times and has not been held scoreless once.
He has hit five or more threes seven times in his career, including seven twice last year (vs. La Sierra, 12/14/13 and at Pepperdine, 3-1-14). He led the team with 95 three pointers a year ago and has already hit 50 this season, giving him 145 in his career - good enough for No. 9 on the Bronco career list. Hitting a three in 48 of his 52 career games, he needs 21 to pass No. 8 Brian Jones (165, 1996-01). Games with no 3s: 0-5 vs. San Diego 1-13-15; 0-6 at BYU 2-16-14; 0-1 vs. Gonzaga 1-29-14; and 0-3 vs. Sacred Heart 12-18-13.
A preseason All-WCC pick, Brownridge scored 30+ three times last season. He has scored 20+ points 17 times in his career, including three straight games earlier this season (vs. Rider, at SJSU and vs. Washington State). He set seven SCU freshman season records and three game records. His 567 points scored last year shattered the SCU freshman record and placed him at No. 2 all-time in points scored for a Bay Area freshman (list includes SCU, Stanford, Cal, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Pacific). He finished his freshman year with 24 points vs. Gonzaga in the WCC quarters, as the Broncos fell 77-75 on a last second layup by the Zags' David Stockton.
Nate Kratch came off the bench the first 12 games, but has started the past seven. He had career highs in both rebounds (11) and blocks (4) at Pacific on Dec. 27. He scored a career-high 15 points off the bench on Dec. 20 vs. Northeastern. His previous career high was 11 points at Cal Poly on Dec. 7, 2013. He was 7 of 10 from the free throw line, also career bests. He has hit a career-high five field goals twice this year (vs. San Diego and at Portland). He also played a career-high 33 minutes in Portland.
Kratch made his first three on his first attempt in his first game for the Broncos last year. Kratch comes from a very athletic family. His maternal grandmother, Dorsey Anderson Dinkla, played professional basketball for the Redheads and was inducted into the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame in New York City at Madison Square Garden last year. She once scored 70 points in a high school game. His dad, Bob, played football at Iowa and went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants in 1991. His mother, Kristi, was a high jumper at Iowa and cleared a personal best of 5'11. His older brother, Colby, played tight end at Toledo University and is now a graduate assistant for the Rockets. His younger sister, MacKenzie, strives to be a Division I hockey player. His paternal grandfather played baseball at Long Island University and two Kratch Uncles played football at Cornell and Central College.
Starting every game this season, Denzel Johnson is the third-highest scorer on the team this year, averaging 8.4 ppg. He has scored double figures nine times this season, including a season-high 15 points vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 14. He has had at least one steal in 15 games this year, including a career-high four steals vs. Northeastern on Dec. 20, and leads the team with 27. He is No. 2 on the team with 602 minutes played, behind Jared Brownridge's 625 minutes played. Johnson played in his 100th career game on Jan. 3 vs. San Diego. He has made 30 starts during his four-year career. A versatile guard, he started 10 games his freshman year and then just one his junior year.
Andrew Papenfus, recovering brain surgery in October to remove a tumor, began practicing with the team again on Jan. 7, 2015 and is hoping to play soon.
Papenfus suffered a seizure in mid-June at Santa Clara during a Bronco Basketball camp drill. Tests revealed he had a golf ball sized tumor in the left side of his brain. He was given the choice to wait to have the surgery and play this season or have the surgery immediately. Because they couldn't guarantee it wouldn't grow, up regulate, Papenfus decided to have brain surgery as soon as the surgeon could get it on the schedule. "Why take the risk," said Papenfus.
The five hour surgery was done at UCSF in San Francisco by Dr. Mitch Berger and his team. He has shocked doctors with how fast he has been able to recover. He was only in the hospital for four days. Papenfus has quickly graduated from basic physical therapy, he couldn't move his right foot after surgery, to sports rehabilitation.