SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara was looking for a fast start and a strong finish in its West Coast Conference home opener against rival San Francisco and the guard play of Jared Brownridge and KJ Feagin helped the Broncos deliver on New Year's Eve.
Feagin, in just his third game back from injury, scored 22 points, including 13 in the first half, and Brownridge tallied 20, with 13 coming in the final 20 minutes, to lead Santa Clara to a 72-58 victory over the rival Dons on Saturday.
Ronnie Boyce came off the bench to score a game-high 22 points for San Francisco (11-4, 1-1), which had won its last three against the Broncos (7-8, 1-1) and was off to its best start in 17 years.
Jordan Ratinho scored 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting from behind the 3-point line, but the rest of the Dons were only 2 of 17 and the team shot only 39 percent overall from the field. Matt McCarthy had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Nate Kratch scored 11 points and posted a team-best nine rebounds for the Broncos, who rallied from a disheartening loss at BYU Thursday in their WCC opener by connecting on 13 of 26 from the behind the 3-point line and holding a 26-14 edge on points in the paint.
"The guys showed great character and resiliency after getting back from Salt Lake City yesterday," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek said. "They went right to the film room and then to the practice court. That was paired with focus and concentration, which is hard to do under any circumstances, but especially after being beat by 30 points. A quick turnaround with an afternoon game today and our guys played a really complete game."
Santa Clara led by as many as 16 in the first half, but the Dons rallied with Boyce providing the kick start. The senior guard scored the final four points of the opening half and Nate Renfro capped an 11-0 run with a tip-in, cutting the Santa Clara lead to 38-33 with less than 18 minutes remaining in the game.
The Broncos went just 3 of 11 from the floor to start the second half and McCarthy's layup trimmed the advantage to 43-40, but the Broncos scored the next seven points. Matt Hauser nailed a 3-pointer and then Feagin and Brownridge followed with layups.
Once San Francisco trimmed the lead to single digits, the Feagin-Brownridge duo put together a stretch of 10 straight points for the Broncos who shot 43 percent from the floor.
Feagin, who hit 8 of 12 field-goal attempts, missed a 3-pointer, but Kratch secured the offensive rebound and fed Brownridge on the right wing for 3-pointer for a 60-47 advantage. Feagin added a 3-pointer on the next possession and San Francisco never got closer than 13 points the remainder of the game, which featured the second-lowest lowest point total of the season for the Dons (48 vs. San Diego State, Dec. 25).
"I thought it was the best job we've done all year of taking care of the scouting report," Sendek said. "We really played actions well. They hurt us in transition and on the offensive glass. We're disappointed in that but the alertness in the half court actions was really good today. It reflected in the Dons shooting percentage."
The Dons missed their first five shots from the floor in the game and the Broncos built a 17-7 lead after eight minutes. Ratinho's 3-pointer cut the deficit to six, but an 11-2 run, which included 3-pointers from Kratch, Feagin and Henrik Jadersten, pushed the lead to 38-22 with under two minutes left in the half.
Just two days earlier, the Broncos trailed by as many as 23 in the opening half against BYU and connected on just 9 of 32 field goals.
Santa Clara nailed 45 percent of its first half field goals against the Dons, including 7 of 13 from behind the 3-point line.
Santa Clara continues a brief two-game homestand Thursday when Portland visits Leavey Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Notes: Today's game was the 219th matchup between the Broncos and the Dons. Santa Clara snapped San Francisco's three-game winning streak in the series and now holds a 113-106 advantage in the series, which dates to 1908 ... Brownridge moved from fourth into a tie for third on the school's career starts list. He made start No. 111 equaling the total of Brody Angley (2004-08) … Feagin reached double figures in scoring for the first time this season, tallying 13 of his 22 points in the first half. He knocked down four 3-pointers, tying a career high and also grabbed a career-best seven rebounds ... Brownridge moved up to 11th on the West Coast Conference career-scoring list, passing Keith Smith of Loyola Marymount (1982-86/1,980). Brownridge now has 1,993 career points and is in line to become just the 11th player in WCC history to reach 2,000 ...SCU led by 10 after 20 minutes, tying its largest halftime lead of the season (Cal State East Bay, Dec. 10) ... the Dons entered the game averaging 10.6 made three-pointers per game but were held to just five field goals made from beyond the arc, their second-lowest total of the season ... Santa Clara's 13 three-point field goals made was its second-best mark of the season and tied for ninth on the school's single-game list … Emmanuel Ndumanya made his sixth-straight start at center, posting six rebounds in 19 minutes. He also drew three charging calls, accounting for three of San Francisco's 13 turnovers.
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