Impressive Second Half Helps Men’s Basketball Claim Road Win Over Pepperdine

Impressive Second Half Helps Men’s Basketball Claim Road Win Over Pepperdine

AUDIO: Sendek Postgame Interview on KDOW-AM 1220 | AUDIO: Vrankic Postgame Interview on KDOW-AM 1220

MALIBU, Calif. – The inside combination of forwards Guglielmo Caruso and Josip Vrankic helped Santa Clara men's basketball secure a road victory.

Vrankic posted a career-high 26 points, including 16 in the second half, and Caruso scored a career-best 18 to lead the Broncos to a 79-71 win over Pepperdine on Thursday.

Trey Wertz had 11 of his 13 points in the second half, including four free throws in the final 19 seconds, and Keshawn Justice scored 10 for the Broncos (13-11, 5-5 West Coast Conference) who shot 53 percent and had just three turnovers in the second half.

Colbey Ross had a double-double (20 points/10 assists) and Kameron Edwards scored 14 for the Waves (11-13, 4-6) who went just 6-for-25 from behind the 3-point line.

Vrankic keyed a 10-2 run with three inside baskets to help the Broncos build a 56-46 lead with 12 minutes left.

A 3-pointer from Eric Cooper Jr. trimmed the lead to 67-61, but Wertz fed Vrankic layup coming out of a timeout and the Broncos twice built the lead to 10 points.

Another 3-pointer from Cooper Jr. cut the lead to 73-66 with 1:30 remaining, but despite the Broncos missing the front end of a pair of 1-and-1's, the Waves were unable to take advantage by missing their next three from the floor.

Santa Clara had 21 assists, its second-best total of the season, on 30 baskets. Wertz and Tahj Eaddy had five apiece and combined for only three of the team's nine turnovers.

"I thought there was a period there in the second half where our ball movement was probably as good as it's been all season," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek said. "The guys were really playing unselfishly, hitting the open man, moving the ball. That was really fun to watch. And I thought our defense was really solid in the second half."

Vrankic (nine), Caruso (nine) and Josh Martin (nine) combined for 27 of the team's 37 rebounds.

The Broncos never trailed in the second half after the game was knotted at 34-all after 20 minutes.

The Broncos led 17-11 before Ross helped key a 18-4 Pepperdine run with 10 points and one of his six first-half assists.

Santa Clara quickly answered with a 7-0 flurry capped by a Caruso dunk that cut the deficit to 29-28 with less than 3 minutes on the clock.

Caruso produced from long range for the first time this season. He came into the game 0-for-4 from behind the 3-point line, but nailed both of his attempts in the opening 4 minutes and ended up with 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.

• The Broncos hold a 79-60 lead, including wins in six of the last seven, in a series that began in 1956. Last season, Santa Clara won both regular season meetings before the Waves won in the opening round of the WCC Tournament. The series has been even in recent years. Entering 2016-17 season, the teams had split the previous 10 games.
• The Broncos improved to 9-1 this season when scoring at least 70 points
• Vrankic had his fourth 20-plus scoring outing of the season. His 11 field goals were a career-high and the most by a Santa Clara player this season.
• Caruso had his sixth double-digit scoring outing of the season and registered a career-high tying nine rebounds.

The Broncos play at San Francisco on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

Connect with the Broncos on Social Media
• Athletics: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Snapchat
• Men's Basketball: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Snapchat