SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara men's basketball secured its biggest victory of the Herb Sendek era Thursday by knocking off the BYU Cougars for the first time as members of the West Coast Conference behind a strong 3-point shooting performance and a gritty defensive effort.
Jared Brownridge scored a game-high 25 points, including 14 in the second half, while Nate Kratch and KJ Feagin tallied 16 each for the Broncos (12-10, 6-3) who claimed a 76-68 win by connecting on a season-high tying 14 3-pointers and holding the Cougars to just three.
Eric Mika scored a team-high 22 points and TJ Haws added 15 for the Cougars (15-7, 6-3) who had 18 turnovers, including 11 in the opening half, in suffering their first loss to the Broncos since 1972.
Despite playing with only seven players, two of whom fouled out midway through the second half, Santa Clara built a double-digit lead five minutes after halftime.
Feagin's 3-pointer increased the lead to 46-35 with 14:27 left, but Mika's jumper three minutes later cut it to seven.
Then Brownridge started to carry the offense. He scored seven straight points capped by a 3-pointer to increase the lead to 55-43.
Kratch, who had 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, nailed his career-high fourth 3-pointer with seven minutes to go as the lead grew to 63-49.
BYU closed to within nine three minutes later, but the Broncos hit 8 of 9 from the free-throw line down the stretch to close it out and snap a 14-game losing streak to the Cougars, including 13 since 2010-11 when they entered the league. The teams are now tied for third place in the WCC standings.
"Our guys once again showed tremendous resilience, and we've talked about our team having to reinvent itself almost on a weekly basis because of the rash of injuries we've been hit with," Santa Clara first-year head coach Herb Sendek said.
Starting center Emmanuel Ndumanya fouled out with nine minutes left in the game and his backup Henrik Jadersten was disqualified four minutes earlier.
Matt Hauser, who had 11 points, seven assists and one turnover, Evan Wardlow, Brownridge, Feagin and Kratch stayed on the floor the final nine minutes. Brownridge played all 40 minutes and Kratch 39.
The Broncos were without reserve forward Tony Lewis (foot) while Wardlow and Hauser were battling illness.
"Injuries continued this week and on top of that we lost our front court players with lots of time left in the game and so we almost had to reconfigure ourselves on the fly with the lineup that we've only played with a few minutes this season and then again only very special end of game situations," Sendek said.
The Cougars led early before their own miscues and Santa Clara's long-range shooting turned the tide. BYU suffered seven turnovers in the opening 10 minutes.
Brownridge's 3-pointer cut the deficit to 17-16 and Ndumanya followed with an offensive rebound and putback on the next possession for the Broncos' first lead of the game.
The lead grew to 29-19 on Brownridge's third 3-pointer of the opening half.
But the Broncos also clamped down defensively, holding the Cougars without a field for nearly seven of the final 11 minutes of the half.
"Defensively they really got into us and we didn't handle it well," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "We turned the ball over time after time in that first half and I think that was the difference in the game."
Nick Emery, BYU's second-leading scorer who was battling a knee injury, was held to five points on 1 of 6 shooting from the field (all 3-pointers).
"Nick's trying, he's a warrior, he gave us all he can, but he's trying to work through that," Rose said. "It's no excuse we got a lot of guys and guys need to step up to play and tonight it didn't happen for us."
The Broncos end their four-game homestand Saturday when No. 21/21 Saint Mary's visits Leavey Center. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
Team Notes: Tonight's game was the 34th meeting in a series that began in 1951. The Broncos snapped BYU's 14-game winning streak in the series. The Cougars, who lead the series 28-6, had won all 13 meetings since joining the WCC for the 2011-12 season. The Broncos last win in the series was on Dec. 2, 1972 (66-64 in Provo, Utah) though the teams only met once (Dec. 30, 1986 in the Cable Car Classic) in a 38-year span … the Broncos have won six of their last eight games … they improved to 10-2 when scoring 65 or more points and 11-2 when connecting on at least 43 percent from the floor (44.2 tonight) … entering the game, the Cougars averaged 13.4 turnovers per game but tonight they recorded 12 in the first half and 18 for the game ... the Broncos turned the ball over 16 times for the second-straight game. That ties their second-highest total in a game this season - also had 16 against Loyola Marymount (Jan. 21) and San Jose State (Dec. 3) ... Santa Clara assisted on 10 of its 12 made baskets in the first half and 16 of 23 for the game ... the Broncos had eight 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, matching their season high for an opening half (also Portland, Jan. 5; Valparaiso, Dec. 22; Sacred Heart, Nov. 21). They also had eight in second half against Pepperdine (Jan. 14) and against Northern Colorado (Nov. 19) ... BYU entered the game with a rebounding margin of +6.7 per game, but only held a 32-29 edge and fell way below its average of 43.76 per game ... BYU tied its season-low 3-point percentage, making just 3 of 15 (20 percent).
Individual Notes: Brownridge (2,129) passed Bill Cartwright of USF (2,116/1975-79) to reach sixth place on the WCC career-scoring list. Brownridge (1,148) also moved to second on the career scoring list for league games, passing Tyler Haws of BYU (1,142/2012-15) ... Brownridge also scored more than 20 points for the fifth-straight game ... Kratch tied his career high in 3-point field goals made with three in the first half and ended the game with a new career best of four ... Feagin dished out five assists, his seventh-straight game with at least five. He also scored in double figures for the 22nd time in his last 33 games.
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