BRESCIA, Italy – In the most challenging game of its Italian Exhibition Tour, Santa Clara men's basketball was edged by Basket Brescia Leonessa, 72-68, Sunday night.
KJ Feagin scored a team-high 17 points and Jared Brownridge added 16 to lead four players in double figures, but after a hot shooting first half the Broncos cooled off in the second against the reigning Italian A League champion.
Basket Brescia Leonessa took its first lead of the game late in the third quarter, but Feagin added two late buckets to help the Broncos gain a 56-55 advantage heading into the fourth period of the third and final game of the 10-day trip.
Neither team made a run in the final quarter, but Basket Bresica Leonessa took the lead for good at the three-minute mark and the Broncos missed their last six shots from the field.
A pair of free throws by Feagin cut the deficit to 70-68 with 10 seconds left, but Basket Brescia Leonessa hit a pair at the line to close out the game, which was played under international rules.
Jarvis Pugh had 11 of his 13 points in the first half and Feagin also tallied 11 in the opening 20 minutes. Pugh collected a team-high 18 rebounds for the only double-double on the trip for Santa Clara.
The Broncos, who went 2-1 on the trip, shot 55 percent from the floor in the first half and led 42-35 heading into the locker room.
"We played against a good team tonight from the first division in the Italian pro league and we did get off to a really good start," head coach Herb Sendek said. "We were playing with great pace. I thought our guys fatigued for a stretch there in the second half and we really got shut out in transition."
Santa Clara shot just 30 percent from the floor after the break and was 9-for-22 (41 percent) from behind the 3-point line in the game.
Brownridge made 3 of 8 attempts behind the arc and Matt Hauser was 3-for-6 and had 11 points on the night.
Henrik Jadersten had six points, Kai Healy tallied three and Nate Kratch had one field goal.
The Broncos pared down the rotation from the first two games, with seven players seeing the bulk of the action. Evan Crawford play late in the fourth quarter for defensive purposes.
"I thought playing at the pace we want to play with really only seven guys, the fatigue got the best of us," Sendek said. "Not withstanding that I was really pleased with our play in a lot of ways and to able to get so many things on film will really be a great tool for teaching."
The Broncos defeated a pair of teams from the Italian B League last week. They downed Piombino-Venturina, 78-61, Thursday and Basket Lecco, 68-57, Saturday.
Santa Clara arrived in Italy last Sunday, flying into Rome where they stayed until Tuesday. From Wednesday through Friday, the team was based in Florence. Venturina, the site of Thursday's game, was roughly a two-hour drive southwest from Florence. The team has been stationed in Lake Como since Friday and returns home Tuesday.
The exhibition trip, which is allowed once every four years per NCAA rules, came at a perfect time with the hiring of Sendek and his staff in March.
"We saw a lot of positive things we can build on when we start practicing in the fall," Sendek said. [Director of athletics] Renee's [Baumgartner] foresight to schedule this trip was brilliant. This has been beneficial for us for many reasons."
The Broncos have their top eight scorers back from last season headlined by Brownridge, who is a two-time first team All-West Coast Conference player, and Feagin, a member of the league's all-freshman squad.
"Hopefully we have a couple guys who are getting healthier," Sendek said. "We have some young guys who will continue to develop."
The Broncos played without veterans Evan Wardlow (knee) and Matt Hubbard (ankle) who are both recovering from offseason surgery.
The team will return to workouts on Sept. 19, when the quarter session begins at Santa Clara. The regular season starts Nov. 11, with the opening game of the 50th Annual Cable Car Classic.
Notes: The game was played in Pala San Filippo in Brescia, which is about a 90-minute drive from Lake Como … it was extremely hot in the venue and the game was stopped five times by the officials to wipe moisture off the floor … the Broncos started their third different lineup on the trip with Feagin, Brownridge, Hauser, Pugh and Kratch opening the game … Santa Clara attempted only eight free throws in the game, hitting five … the Broncos opened the game by scoring the first eight points and led 25-21 after one quarter.
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