SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara men's basketball needed strong support from its underclassmen to come away with a victory on Senior Night.
Sophomore KJ Feagin scored a game-high tying 22 points, including a career-high tying six 3-pointers, and classmate Matt Hauser added a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 10 assists to help the Broncos pull away from Pacific (10-20, 4-13) on Thursday in a West Coast Conference game.
Brownridge, the fourth all-time leading scorer in WCC history, was held to five points and fouled out with 3:20 left in the game and the Broncos (16-14, 10-7) clinging to a 59-56 lead.
But fellow senior Nate Kratch scored 18 points, including a key jump hook with less than one minute left, to help the Broncos clinch the fourth seed in next week's WCC Tournament.
Anthony Townes had 22 points while Ray Bowles and TJ Wallace scored 18 points apiece for the Tigers who had split their last four games after snapping a seven-game skid. They connected on 51 percent from the floor, including 60 percent in the second half.
Santa Clara, which shot 48 percent from the floor, connected on all six of its free throw attempts in the final 1:22.
After Kratch's bucket in the paint with 40 seconds left, Bowles nailed a 3-pointer, one of six for the Tigers in the second half, to trim the Pacific deficit to 65-63.
"Nate was driven and no shot bigger than that left hand jumper he has to put us up 65-60," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek said.
Hauser, who recorded his fourth double-double of the season, nailed a pair of free throws on the next possession, but Wallace hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left when Emmanuel Ndumanya turned the ball over following a defensive rebound.
Hauser was fouled again and sank two more free throws with nine seconds left to increase the lead to 69-66.
Nduamanya, who had 10 rebounds, harassed Jack Williams into a miss on what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds. Townes rebounded the ball and laid it in as time expired.
"Well we made our free throws down the homestretch," Sendek said. "Matt Hauser was tremendous in those situations. Kai Healy, who sat the whole game, came in and made two big free throws. That's really difficult to do and says a lot about his courage and his free throw shooting."
Healy is the second-best at the line for the Broncos, connecting at 81-percent clip entering the game.
Santa Clara led by nine after halftime before the Tigers tied it three times midway through the period.
Feagin and Hauser helped the Broncos briefly pull away.
Feagin nailed four straight 3-pointers in a four-minute span with the last one giving the Broncos a 58-48 lead with 6:38 left. Hauser assisted on three of them and hit one his own from behind the 3-point line.
Brownridge struggled from the floor in the game, connecting on only 2 of 11 attempts, including 1-for-8 from behind the 3-point line.
Brownridge, Kratch and fellow senior Will Burkett were recognized prior to tipoff of their final game in Leavey Center.
Kratch was the lone offensive weapon for the Broncos in the first half. He had 11 of the team's first 15 points, and 16 of the 32 in the opening 20 minutes.
The game was tied four times in the first half, with the Broncos snapping the final one on Brownridge's lone 3-pointer of a game, which gave them a 29-26 lead with 2:31 left.
The Broncos close out the regular season Saturday on the road against No. 20/18 Saint Mary's.
Santa Clara's win, coupled with San Francisco's loss Thursday at Loyola Marymount, moved the Broncos into sole possession of fourth in the WCC standings. The league tournament opens Friday, March 3 in Las Vegas.
The Dons (19-11, 9-8) split with the Broncos during the regular season, but Santa Clara's win over BYU at home earns it the tiebreaker against San Francisco.
Should the Broncos upset Saint Mary's and BYU loses at Gonzaga on Saturday, Santa Clara would claim the No. 3 seed.
Team Notes: Tonight's game was the 139th meeting in the all-time series, which dates to 1905. The Broncos now boast a 95-44 edge. This is the fourth season the Tigers have been a member of the West Coast Conference, with the Broncos leading 6-3 in that span. But the teams have faced each other every season since 1994-95. The 139 games played are the fifth-most among all-time Santa Clara opponents. Santa Clara assisted on 78.2 percent (18-23) of its field goals made. The Broncos currently have the best assist percentage in West Coast Conference play ... 14 of Santa Clara's 23 buckets were from beyond the arc, moving the team to 9-3 when connecting on 10 or more 3-point field goals. The 3-point total is tied for fourth on the school's single-game list … Sendek finished the season with a 5-1 mark against the three other first-year coaches in the WCC. Head coach Damon Stoudamire, also in his first season, leads Pacific.
Individual Notes: Kratch reached double figures for the fourth straight game at just halftime, scoring 11 in the first 20 minutes while knocking down three 3-point field goals. He finished the game with 18 points, three assists and three rebounds ... Hauser recorded his fourth double-double of the season with his 13 points and 10 assists. His double-double total is the most by a guard in the WCC this year ... Feagin has scored in double figures in 14 of the last 16 games, finishing the night with 22 points, three rebounds and four assists. He recorded 18 of his 22 points from his six three-point field goals, tying a career high. Feagin has led the team in scoring in four of the last six games … Brownridge fouled out for the just the fifth time in his career, including second this season (also at Portland) … Ndumanya (11) led the team in rebounding for the fourth-straight game and is averaging 11.5 in that span … Kratch played all 40 minutes, the eighth time with 40 or more in a game this season … he scored in double figures for the fourth-straight game, averaging 20.0 points in that span on 62.3 percent shooting from the floor.
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