Men’s Basketball Falls to Saint Mary’s in Regular-Season Finale

Men’s Basketball Falls to Saint Mary’s in Regular-Season Finale

WCC Championships Central

MORAGA, Calif. – Saint Mary's balanced offensive attack was too much for Santa Clara men's basketball to overcome in the final regular-season game of the season.

Jock Landale scored a game-high 17 points and Emmett Naar added 13 on 5 of 7 shooting from the floor, to lead four players in double figures for the No. 20/18 Gaels who shot 56 percent from the floor in Saturday's 70-56 win over the Broncos.

Calvin Hermanson also scored 13 and Dane Pineau, one of two Saint Mary's seniors playing for the last time at home, tallied 10 points.

Matt Hauser and Jared Brownridge each had 15 points for the foul-plagued Broncos (16-15, 10-8) who ended the year as the most improved team in the West Coast Conference and will be the No. 4 seed in the league tournament.

The Gaels (26-3, 16-2), who have only lost to top-ranked Gonzaga since early December, had the No. 2 seed wrapped up and will receive a bye into the quarterfinals

The Broncos, who tied for fourth in the WCC standings, also receive a bye into the quarterfinals and will play fifth-seeded San Francisco at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Tournament play begins Friday with a pair of first-round games.

A 3-pointer by Hauser cut the deficit to 45-36 with 13:37 left in the game, but the Gaels went on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes by getting to the basket as Pineau and Naar capped it with layups.

After being held to five points in Thursday's home loss to Pacific, Brownridge, the fourth-leading scorer in WCC history, had nine of Santa Clara's first 11 points in the game, but didn't score again until there were just more than eight minutes left in the game when the Gaels were in control.

Hermanson's 3-pointer increased the lead to 62-42, the largest of the game, with 7:17 left and the Broncos never got closer than the final score.

Brownridge sat during the opening half with two early fouls and the Santa Clara frontcourt struggled to contain Landale who had nine of the team's 16 points in the paint in the opening half.

"The foul disparity in the first half was overwhelming," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek said. "We suffered debilitating foul trouble especially with our frontcourt."

Forwards Emmanuel Ndumanya and Henrik Jadersten each had three of the team's 12 first half fouls.

Nate Kratch, who averaged 20.0 points in the previous four games, picked up two fouls in the first half and was held scoreless in the game, never finding a rhythm.

"Let's give them credit," Sendek said of Saint Mary's. "We can evaluate it from our bias prospective. In all fairness, they are an outstanding team as everyone knows. Their frontcourt is very good at drawing fouls, as is their backcourt."  

Joe Rahon, Saint Mary's other senior, scored seven points and posted a game-high six assists.

The Gaels didn't take advantage of being put to the free-throw line 22 times as they only made 13.

The Broncos ended just 8-for-14 from the line and were out-rebounded 33-21.

Saint Mary's built a 12-point lead early in the game before the Broncos chipped away.

KJ Feagin's jumper cut the deficit to 32-27 with less than five minutes left in the half, but the Gaels, who hit 5 of 7 from behind the 3-point line in the opening half, went on a 7-0 run by forcing the ball inside and going to the line.

Feagin who connected on a career-high six 3-pointers in two of the last three games was just 1-for-3 from the behind the 3-point line.

While the Broncos did not attempt a free throw in the first half, the Gaels were 10 of 17.

Jadersten hit a pair of 3-pointers to help the Broncos close the gap midway through the half, but played just six minutes and eventually left the game in the second half with a head injury.

Both teams shot the ball extremely well in the opening half, at one point combining to hit 18 of 22 field goal attempts. Saint Mary's shot a blistering 65 percent from the floor while the Broncos connected at 48 percent.

"I thought our guys really competed; I was really pleased with their effort," Sendek said. "That was something we talked about coming into the game. With respect to that we were successful. We didn't make enough plays or get enough stops to beat an outstanding team."

The Broncos end the regular season with a 5.0 game overall improvement from last season, the best in the WCC (11-20 last year). Gonzaga, which lost its first game of the season Saturday, falling at home to BYU, was second with a 4.0 game increase from 2015-16 (29-1 from 28-8).

Team Notes: Tonight's game was the 222nd meeting between Santa Clara and Saint Mary's, longtime rivals and original West Coast Conference members. The series began in 1910 and the Gaels are the most common opponent in Santa Clara history. The Broncos lead the series 133-89, though the Gaels have now won six of the last eight meetings, including a 72-59 victory on Jan. 28 … the Broncos entered the game with the best turnover margin (+2.0) in the WCC. While they were only minus-1 in the game (11 to 10), the Gaels held a 17-6 edge in points off turnovers … Santa Clara (46.5) fell to 15-4 this season when shooting at least 43 percent from the floor … the Broncos also dropped to 12-3 when hitting 40 percent or higher from behind the 3-point line. They shot 8-for-20 (40 percent).

Individual Notes: Feagin entered the game as one of the team's hottest scoring threats. In the previous seven games, he averaged 17.7 points on 57.3 percent shooting from the floor, including 67.7 percent on 3-pointers (23 of 34). However, he was held to seven points on 2 of 7 from the floor … Jarvis Pugh played for the first time in 14 games due to the foot injury. He checked in with 9:14 left in the first half … while being called for a foul Jadersten took a shot to the face from Landale with 12:32 left in the game. He did not return after being evaluated for a head injury. … Hauser had three turnovers in the game, just the fourth time this season he committed more than two in a game … Hauser scored in double figures for the 17th time this season.

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