SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Matt Hauser posted 19 points and Henry Caruso scored 16 to help propel Santa Clara men's basketball to a 72-65 victory over Pepperdine in Thursday's West Coast Conference opener.
KJ Feagin added 15 points, including four free throws in the final 24 seconds, for the Broncos (4-9) who snapped a four-game losing streak despite allowing the Waves (3-10) to shoot 52 percent from the floor.
Colbey Ross tallied a game-high 20 points, including 15 in the second half, and Trae Berhow scored 15 for Pepperdine, which was forced into 16 turnovers and shot just 11 of 19 from the free-throw line to dropped its fourth-straight outing.
The Broncos were 15 of 17 from the line, including 13-for-15 in the second half.
After the Waves regained the lead, Feagin keyed a 7-0 run midway through the second half to help the Broncos take a 55-51 advantage.
The Waves closed within one twice in the final five minutes, but each time the Broncos had an answer.
Back-to-back layups from Feagin and Kai Healy pushed the lead to 64-59 and the Broncos nailed all eight free-throw attempts in the final 24 seconds.
Emmanuel Ndumanya matched a career high with four of Santa Clara's 11 steals.
The Broncos shot just 40 percent from the floor, but were able to connect on 11 of 28 from behind the 3-point line. Hauser was 5-for-9 beyond the 3-point line and had 12 points in the second half.
Santa Clara trailed by as many eight in the opening 10 minutes of the game as Pepperdine controlled the boards and went 8 of 10 from the floor.
Caruso started a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer as the Broncos tied the game at 21-all. Hauser's 3-pointer with 5:04 left gave Santa Clara a 24-22 lead, its first of the game.
Neither team led by more than two points during the final seven minutes of the half, one in which the Waves were just 2-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Pepperdine held a 35-25 edge in rebounding in the game, but was out-scored 18-6 in points off turnovers.
Two free throws from Ross cut the Santa Clara lead to 58-57 with 4:20 left in the game, but Caruso made a layup and Kai Healy a reverse left-handed basket with the shot clock running down. The Broncos got a stop at other end and Feagin scored on a runner. On the ensuing Pepperdine possession, the Broncos forced a turnover and Caruso fell on the ball and called timeout.
"One of the biggest plays was Henry jumping on the loose ball like Pete Rose and having the presence of mind to call a timeout," said head coach Herb Sendek. "He's just a warrior. He's a winner."
• Matt Hauser, KJ Feagin, Henry Caruso, Josip Vrankic and Emmanuel Ndumanya started for the seventh time this season. Josip Vrankic (concussion) missed the San Jose State game (Dec. 21) after being injured against Valparaiso (Dec. 18).
• In a series that began in 1956, the Broncos hold a 76-59 lead and have won the last three, including a sweep in 2016-17. Entering last season, the teams had split the previous 10 games. The Broncos have won five of the last six games in Leavey Center. Santa Clara set a school record with 22 3-pointers in 106-55 victory on Feb. 16, 2017.
• Feagin matched his season high with six assists (also vs. Idaho, Nov. 22).
• The Broncos (11) were just one shy of their season high in steals (12 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Dec. 2).
• The Broncos shot 15-of-17 (88.2 percent) from the line for the game for the highest percentage on the season. The previous best was 82.8 percent (24-of-29) vs La Verne (Nov. 10).
• The Broncos turned the ball over just eight times, marking the fifth time they've turned the ball over less than 10 times in a game.
• Ndumanya made a career-high five free throws. His previous best was four (twice), last time vs La Verne in the season opener.
The Broncos play at No. 20 Gonzaga (11-3) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
"We didn't get off to a good start and things were kind of dead in here but we showed some composure and were able to lead by two at half. Then, in the second half we found ourselves trailing after we had taken a lead, and our guys kept their composure. That is a really good sign for our team.
"The defense didn't have nearly the intensity that we need to have. When you give up 52-percent in the game and 54-percent in the second half, we have to be better. It was mitigated by three factors: one - only four 3-pointers; two - 16 turnovers; three - we only committed 14 personal fouls. Those are three positive things on the defensive side but the overall field goal percentage has to get better. I never felt like we had the upper hand with our defense. At this juncture, we need to be a lot better than we are on the defensive end of the floor."
Head coach Herb Sendek