Men’s Basketball Holds Off Portland, Claims Second-Straight Win

Men’s Basketball Holds Off Portland, Claims Second-Straight Win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In one of the more entertaining games this season, Santa Clara men's basketball was able to produce a key late defensive stop to hold off Portland.

Matt Hauser scored a career-high tying 22 and Josip Vrankic posted a career-best 19 points to enable the Broncos to edge the Pilots, 70-68, in Saturday's West Coast Conference matchup.

Leading scorer KJ Feagin was held to 10 points, but had six assists for Santa Clara (6-10, 3-1), which has won three of its last four after dropping four in a row.

Josh McSwiggan scored 17 and Tahirou Diabate recorded 15 points and four blocks Portland (6-10, 0-4), which is winless in conference play.

The Broncos held on despite going without a field in the final three minutes.

A driving layup by Vrankic gave the Broncos a 68-64 lead with 2:52 left, but they only got two more attempts from the floor.

Portland's JoJo Walker scored both of his baskets in the final 1:13 of the game, the last one cutting the deficit to 69-68 with 42 seconds left.

Vrankic missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Henry Caruso stole Walker's pass and was fouled with 1.2 seconds remaining. Caruso only made one of two free throws, but a desperation heave by Portland's Franklin Porter as the buzzer sounded was well off the mark.

Santa Clara shot only 42 percent from the floor, but forced 14 Portland turnovers and only committed seven. The Pilots shot 53 percent from the floor.

The Broncos built an eight-point lead early in the second half, but the Pilots quickly erased that as Santa Clara was unable to pull away.

The Broncos erased an eight-point deficit midway through the opening half, which was tied seven times, behind the play of their guards.

Feagin scored six in a 10-2 run that knotted the game at 21-all and Hauser took over there, scoring 14 of the team's final 16 points in the half.

Hauser nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds to help Santa Clara carry a 39-35 lead into the locker room.

Matt Hauser, KJ Feagin, Henry Caruso, Josip Vrankic and Emmanuel Ndumanya started for the 10th time this season, including fourth-straight contest.
• In a series that began in 1946, Santa Clara leads 63-33. It has been a series of streaks in recent years. The Broncos have captured the last five meetings, which followed a three-game winning streak for Portland. Santa Clara had been victorious in the previous three.
• The Broncos had 12 offensive rebounds, their third-highest total of the season, and were whistled for 12 fouls, their second-lowest mark of the year.
• Hauser matched a career high with five rebounds.
• Hauser and Feagin combined for nine assists and just one turnover.
• The Broncos (7) registered fewer than 10 turnovers for the sixth time this season.

The Broncos continue a three-game homestand on Thursday against Saint Mary's. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

"We got a big stop with 7.6 seconds to go. We are still yielding much too high a field goal percentage. The difference in the game might have been that we only had seven turnovers to their 14. We got five more shots as a result and got to the free throw line more. A good hard-fought win for us. We rely so heavily on our back court to do so many things.

"Emotion is a tricky thing. You want to be focused but I think it's really important to celebrate and play with passion among your own team. I love when our guys show fire and passion and positive emotion. When they celebrate the good plays of each other, I think that's tremendous."

Head coach Herb Sendek