SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Jared Brownridge scored a game-high 25 points and behind a boisterous crowd the Broncos gave the second-ranked team in the country a scare before falling 77-63 Thursday night in a West Coast Conference game at the Leavey Center.
Santa Clara falls to 11-13 overall, 5-7 in the WCC while Gonzaga moves to 23-1 and 11-0. The Broncos return to action Saturday, Feb. 7 taking on the Portland Pilots at 5 p.m. In the Leavey Center.
Santa Clara built a six-point lead, 46-40, following a Brownridge layup two and a half minutes into the second half and the raucous crowd was ready to blow the roof off the Leavey Center.
The Broncos and the crowd were quickly silenced.
The Bulldogs used a 20-4 run over the next eight and half minutes to take a 10-point lead and control the game.
The Broncos shot 42.4 percent from the field (25 of 59), including 50 percent from beyond the arc (9 of 18). The Broncos added 44.4 percent from the foul line (4 of 9). They corralled 22 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and 7 turnovers.
Brownridge hit all four of his three-pointers and was 9-of-16 from the floor for his fourth 20-point game of the season and 19th in his career. Matt Hubbard, Brandon Clark and Denzel Johnson each scored 10 while Nate Kratch grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Gonzaga shot 69 percent from the field (29 of 42), including 83.3 percent from three (5 of 6). From the foul line, they shot 63.6 percent (14 of 22). They tallied 32 rebounds, 19 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 14 turnovers.
Kyle Wiltjer netted a team-high 22 points with Byron Wesley adding 17 and Gary Bell Jr. 16 as the Zags shot 69 percent from the floor and outscored the Broncos 42-22 in the paint.
Przemek Karnowski started the fateful run for Gonzaga with a lay-in and Wiltjer followed with a short putback to ignite the Zags streak that put the game away.
Johsnon made one of two free throws before Kevin Pangos tied it at 47-47 with a three at the 14:32 mark. Wiltjer hit a pair of free throws at 9:04 giving the Zags a double-digit advantage, 60-50.
The Broncos closed within eight points twice. Brownridge hit a pair of free throws and Clark drained an elbow jumper, but the Bulldogs clamped down forcing six turnovers.
Karnowski scored twice and Bell Jr. and Wesley once each down low as Gonzaga took advantage of its size early jumping to an 8-2 lead two minutes in.
Johnson hit a jumper from the top of the key to cut the lead to four, but Wesley sparked a 7-1 run for the Zags with a reverse layup. Bell Jr. topped it off with a three to extend the lead to 10 at 15-5 with five minutes gone.
Trailing 23-12 with under 11 minutes left in the first half, Hubbard keyed a 15-2 Broncos run scoring all seven of his first half points. A jumper and three from the wing got Santa Clara within six at the halfway point of the first half.
Hubbard hit another layup, Johnson hit a three from the wing and Jarvis Pugh had a putback of an offensive rebound to get the Broncos within 25-24 with 5:38 left.
After a Wesley turnover, one of 10 in the first half for the Zags, Brownridge hit a pull up three giving the Broncos their first lead at 27-25 with 4:56 left in the half.
Brownridge had a nice reverse layup around Karnowski with less than a minute to play and the Broncos took a 36-34 lead at the break, just the second time the Zags trailed at the intermission all season.
NOTES: After playing at BYU on Saturday less than four months after brain surgery, Andrew Papenfus had a set back this week and the doctors advised him to not practice or play for a week. He will be re-evaluated next week. He is in good health and feeling well ... Starters for the Broncos (career starts): Brandon Clark (61), Nate Kratch (17), Denzel Johnson (35), Jared Brownridge (57), Matt Hubbard (22) … With his 3-pointer at 4:56 of the first half, Brownridge reached the 900 career point mark ending the night with 923 … Santa Clara had just one turnover in the first half …Hubbard reached double-figures for the 10th time this season … Clark picked up his 100th career steal.