SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Tahj Eaddy and Josip Vrankic each posted 19 points, Keshawn Justice came off the bench to score 16 and a hot-shooting second half helped Santa Clara men's basketball pull away from a pesky Sonoma State squad for an 82-54 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Josh Martin had 11 points and a team-best eight rebounds for the Broncos (4-6) who hit 61 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes, including 5 of 10 from beyond the 3-point line.
Wesley Gilbert had 14 points and Aaron Porcil added 13 for the Seawolves (5-5) who were held to only 8-for-28 (29 percent) shooting from the floor in the second half when the Broncos out-scored them 48 to 25.
Eaddy (4 of 8) and Justice (3 of 6) combined for all seven of the team's 3-pointers.
Eaddy and Trey Wertz each had six of Santa Clara's season-high 20 assists.
After struggling offensively in the opening half, the Broncos nailed five straight field goals to pull ahead 61-43.
The lead grew to 70-45 with 7 minutes left on a layup from Wertz. The Seawolves then were held without a field goal in the final 5 minutes of the game.
"We have not done as well in the first half as we have in the second half for whatever reason," head coach Herb Sendek said. "I don't think anyone knows for certain but it's something we specifically talked about yesterday and today before the game. It shows that we are better in the second half. Hopefully somewhere along the way we will get closer to being a 40-minute team."
Justice had 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field and Eaddy scored 13 in the second half against Sonoma State, a member of the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
"Tahj is doing a much better job on defense these days and he is really playing well for us," Sendek said.
The Seawolves, who played twice in the previous three days, hung with the Broncos for much of the opening half.
The game was tied 13-all as Santa Clara hit only 4 of 14 from the floor in the opening 8 minutes.
The Broncos pulled ahead by nine points on a layup by Vrankic, but the Seawolves closed within 32-29 on a layup from Gilbert with 2:29 left. However, Vrankic's layup in the final minute was the only basket the remainder of the half.
Vrankic had 15 points in the opening half and posted a career-high tying three blocked shots in the game.
"I thought Josip bounced back and had a really good performance," Sendek said of the sophomore forward who had only five points in Friday's loss to Idaho State. "The other night coming out of finals, he probably wasn't himself, but he came back this afternoon with great determination and played well."
Guglielmo Caruso had eight points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Broncos.
• Santa Clara and Sonoma State met for the second time. The Seawolves lost to the Broncos, 79-51, on Dec. 8, 1982.
• For the fifth-straight game, the Broncos had only eight scholarship players available due to injury. Fallou Ndoye is the latest addition to the list. He suffered a torn tendon in his foot against San Jose State (Nov. 24). Ndoye and KJ Feagin (broken hand) are out indefinitely. Juan Ducasse (knee) is out for the year.
• Josh Martin (eight) had registered double digit rebounds in the last four games.
• Josip Vrankic has at least one block in the last six games, including eight in the last three outings.
HIGHLIGHTS | Keshawn Justice (@tiggo3justice) scored 15 points in the second half and finished with a career-high 16 points in today's victory over Sonoma State! #StampedeAhead #SCUBroncos pic.twitter.com/QXKYoQHYVG— Santa Clara Men's Basketball (@SantaClaraHoops) December 10, 2018
The Broncos have four more nonconference games, with the next three at home. They face Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. on Thursday. USC is in town on Dec. 18 and Idaho follows on Dec. 21.
"The biggest thing for Willie is that he needs to get stronger, but right now he doesn't have the strength but he has a beautiful touch and his wing span is 7-foot-4. He is very long. He is a talented young player. He is adapting to the college game still.
- Herb Sendek on Guglielmo Caruso