Strong Second Half Propels Men’s Basketball Past Pacific

Strong Second Half Propels Men’s Basketball Past Pacific

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STOCKTON, Calif. – In need of a West Coast Conference road win, Santa Clara men's basketball turned to its two senior leaders.

Jared Brownridge scored a game-high 26 points and Nate Kratch posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Broncos to a 64-47 win over Pacific on Saturday.

Brownridge had 16 points and Kratch added eight in the second half when the Broncos (14-13, 8-6) shot 61 percent from the floor to pull away from the Tigers.

Anthony Townes scored a game-high 12 points for Pacific (9-18, 3-11), which snapped a seven-game losing streak in Thursday's home win against San Diego.

The Broncos normally win with strong 3-point shooting, but Kratch helped them outscore the Tigers 28-18 on points in the paint. He was 7 of 12 from the floor in the game, with all but one of his baskets coming within eight feet of the basket.

Normally a man-to-man defensive team, Santa Clara utilized a zone early to help contain Pacific's outside scoring threats. The Tigers shot just 31 percent from the floor, including 8-for-25 from behind the 3-point line. They only went 1-for-8 on 3-pointers in the second half, though the Broncos switched back to man-to-man by that time.

Brownridge, who moved to fourth on the WCC all-time scoring list (2,213 career points) in the game, helped key a 10-0 run at the start of the second half with a jumper and a 3-pointer that snapped a 27-all tie at the break.

The Tigers closed to within 39-36 on a 3-pointer by Ray Bowles, who had nine points, but the Broncos scored six straight from the free-throw line by attacking the basket both on the fastbreak, where they outscored Pacific 12-0, or in the halfcourt.

After Bowles helped trim the deficit to seven on a jumper, the Broncos nailed three straight from the floor while the Tigers missed three in a row and the lead was increased to 53-38 with 8:22 left in the game.

Pacific, which was only able to get to the free-throw six times in the game (hitting just one), never got closer than 11 the remainder of the game.

"Our guys are doing a really good job focusing on their preparation," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek said. "The effort was just exemplary on defense in the second half. The second half at USF and again tonight our guys have played with tremendous energy, effort and focus on defense."

Santa Clara was 15 of 18 from the free throw line, including 8 of 9 by Brownridge, to help it snap a two-game skid and post a 2-2 mark in its four-contest road swing.

"It hasn't been a strength of ours," Sendek said. "We haven't gotten to line nearly enough or as much as we would like, but that was a big part of tonight's game."

The Broncos rallied from a 19-point second half deficit to within one in Thursday's 61-58 loss at San Francisco.

The Dons lost to BYU Saturday, enabling the Broncos to move into a tie for fourth place in the WCC standings with San Francisco. The Cougars are third with a 9-5 mark.

Led by a career-high 14 rebounds from Emmanuel Ndumanya the Broncos held a 38-31 edge on the glass against Pacific, a team that ranks first in the WCC in offensive rebounding (12.4 per game).

Brownridge and Kratch helped get the Broncos off to a better start than against San Francisco when they trailed by 25 in the first half.

After going scoreless against the Dons, Kratch was engaged early, tallying six of his eight first-half points in the paint, where the Broncos outscored the Tigers 16-4 in the opening 20 minutes.

There were seven lead changes in the first half and neither team led by more than five points.

Kratch's jumper gave the Broncos a 16-11 lead, but Pacific responded with eight straight points with Wallace and Jack Williams nailing 3-pointers.

The Tigers were 7 of 17 from behind the 3-point line, but only 3 of 14 inside the arc in the first half.

The Broncos will be home for three of their final four regular season games. They face Pepperdine on Thursday in Leavey Center.

Team Notes: Tonight's game was the 138th meeting in the series, which began in 1905. The Broncos now have a 94-44 edge. This is the fourth season the Tigers have been a member of the West Coast Conference, with the Broncos leading the series 5-3 in that span. But the teams have faced each other every season since 1994-95 … Sendek is now 4-1 vs. the other three new coaches in the WCC. Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire is also in his first season … the Broncos committed just one turnover in the first half and eight in the game. It marked the ninth game this year they have posted single-digit turnovers … Santa Clara's 61 percent accuracy from the floor (11 of 18) in the second half was its best mark in the final 20 minutes this season. The Broncos shot 60 percent vs. both Pepperdine (Jan. 14) and Sacred Heart (Nov. 21) … the Broncos improved to 13-3 this season when hitting at least 43 percent from the floor (49 tonight) and 6-1 when out-rebounding an opponent (38-31).

Individual Notes: Brownridge (2,213) moved to fourth on the WCC all-time scoring list, passing   LMU's Terrell Lowery (2,201/1988-92). Brownridge needed 14 points to equal Lowery entering the game and passed him on a 3-pointer with 17:23 left in the second half… Brownridge and Kratch each played in their 123rd consecutive game, eclipsing the school record of 122 set by Mitch Burley from 1985-89. Brownridge also moved within two of the school's all-time career starts mark. He has started all 123 career games, trailing only record holder Kevin Foster (125/2008-13) … the starters played all but 20 minutes for the Broncos, with Henrik Jadersten (eight) and Kai Healy (12) seeing action off the bench … Brownridge became the school's all-time leader in minutes played. He was in the game for 36 minutes and now has 4,295 in his career. Evan Roquemore (2010-14) was on the floor for 4,271 minutes in his career … Ndumanya (14) recorded his third double-digit rebounding game of the season. His previous career high was 12 rebounds, which occurred vs. San Francisco last year (Feb. 6) … Kratch (16 rebounds/10 rebounds) posted his seventh-career double-double, including third this season.

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