SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Cold shooting coupled with turnovers doomed Santa Clara men's basketball in its season opener, falling to Prairie View A&M, 81-64, on Friday night. For the game, the Broncos shot 37 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 20 times while allowing the Panthers to shoot 53 percent.
Gary Blackston scored a game-high 30 points on 13-for-21 shooting to lead four Panthers in double digits.
Prairie View A&M raced to a 42-24 at the half on 52 percent shooting and protected the ball, turning it over only twice compared to 12 for the Broncos. The Panthers converted the Bronco miscues into 16 points. Andrus Gerard scored 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting for the Panthers.
Meanwhile, Santa Clara shot just 33 percent in the first half with its top two leading returning scorers KJ Feagin and Josip Vrankic being held to four points total on 2-for-6 shooting. Newcomer Tahj Eaddy shouldered the offensive load for the Broncos scoring 11 points in the first half, finishing with 13 points. Freshman Keshawn Justice paced the Broncos with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Santa Clara struggled to find its rhythm on both ends of the floor playing seven scholarship newcomers along with Feagin and Vrankic. And it did not help matters when Vrankic picked up three fouls in the first half and was whistled for his fourth just two minutes into the second half. Feagin was slapped with three fouls in a three minute span in the second half including his fourth with 13:49 left in the game before returning to action at the 5:40 mark along with Vrankic.
Josh Martin opened up the second half with a 3-pointer to close the gap to 15 points but the Broncos could not get closer than 12 points the rest of the game. Martin finished with a double-double in his Bronco debut with 11 points and team-high 13 rebounds.
Prairie View built a 20-point lead midway through the second half on a 3-pointer from Blackston who also had eight rebounds and four steals.
Santa Clara cut the deficit to 64-52 on a driving layup by Feagin with 5 minutes left, but Blackston answered with a pair baskets.
Feagin, a preseason All-West Coast Conference selection, was limited to four points on 2-for-9 shooting including missing all four 3-point attempts.
• KJ Feagin, Josip Vrankic, Tahj Eaddy, Josh Martin and Fallou Ndoye started for the Broncos with the latter three making their Bronco debuts.
The Broncos host UC Irvine on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.