Men’s Basketball Wins Opener on Italy Exhibition Tour

Men’s Basketball Wins Opener on Italy Exhibition Tour

Italy Exhibition Tour Log | Highlights/Interviews | Photo Gallery

VENTURINA, Italy – The Santa Clara men's basketball team started the competitive portion of its 10-day Italy Exhibition Tour with a convincing 78-61 victory over Piombino-Venturina Thursday evening.

Senior Jared Brownridge and sophomore KJ Feagin each scored 14 points to lead a balanced offensive attack in the four-quarter, 40-minute contest played under international rules against one of Italy's B League teams.

Sophomore Matt Hauser and junior transfer Akil Douglas tallied nine points apiece for the Broncos who shot 46 percent from the floor, including 36 percent from the behind the 3-point line, in the first game on the bench in two years for new Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek who was hired in March.

"It was really good for our guys to have this opportunity to play against outside competition," Sendek said. "We're learning a new system and there is nothing like an actual game to shine the light on where you may be. Right now we're at the end of summer. We don't have our entire system in. I think it was good for us to get up and down and play."

Senior Nate Kratch scored eight points and controlled the glass with a game-high 13 rebounds. He ranked fourth in the West Coast Conference last year with nearly eight rebounds per game.

Santa Clara broke open a close game with a late first quarter rally that lasted into the second. Feagin and Brownridge sparked the 15-0 run to help the Broncos lead 46-24 at halftime. Feagin scored six points at the end of the first quarter and Brownridge tallied eight in the second quarter on 3 of 4 shooting from the floor.

"At the start of the game there was definitely a lid on the basket for us." Sendek said. "We had some wide open shots and missed some free throws. But once the guys settled down we went on a nice run and opened up a good lead in the second quarter propelled by KJ and Jared."

Brownridge 5 of 12 from the floor in the game, including 3-for-7 from behind the 3-point line. Feagin was 7 of 11 from the field.

The Broncos, who were whistled for 28 fouls, led by as many as 29 in the third quarter before a rally from Piombino-Venturina cut the deficit to 63-47 at the end of three quarters. Piombino-Venturina never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.

"We made an effort to play everybody equal minutes," Sendek said. "We didn't get off to the best start in the second half. One thing that really stood out was the 31 free throw attempts. We battled pretty significant foul trouble and we substituted liberally."

Juniors Emmanuel Ndumanya, Jarvis Pugh and Kai Healy each posted five points. Sophomore Henrik Jadersten had four points and seven rebounds. Pugh collected six rebounds and had one blocked shot.

Ndumanya fouled out, while Feagin and Jadersten finished the game with four apiece.

Redshirt freshman Tony Lewis, who sat out last year with a foot injury, posted three points and freshman Julian Roche scored two.

A crowd of about 200 boisterous local fans attended the contest.

"It was a great atmosphere for a late summer night in a relatively small town," Sendek said. "I thought the turnout was great. They were into the game. It was a really good sporting event. It was an honor be a part of it."

It was only an exhibition contest, but Sendek was excited to be back on the bench.

"I love coaching these guys," Sendek said. "They're eager to listen, they want to learn, they're determined to get better. So from the very start, going back to the first four-man workouts we had in April through tonight's opening game I'm just enjoying being their coach."

The Broncos arrived in Italy Sunday, flying into Rome where they stayed until Tuesday. Since then the team has been based in Florence. Venturina is roughly a two-hour drive southwest from Florence. The team will travel to Lake Como Friday, playing the final two games of the trip in the area. The Broncos play a game in Milan Saturday and one Sunday in nearby Brescia.

Notes: All 11 players who saw action scored in the game … the Broncos missed their first four free throws in the game and finished just 7-for-17 (41 percent) … Evan Wardlow (knee) and Matt Hubbard (ankle) are still recovering from offseason surgeries and will not play on the trip … there is a nine-hour time difference between Italy (CET) and the West Coast.

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