SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Josip Vrankic posted 18 points and Guglielmo Caruso scored 15 to lead Santa Clara men's basketball, which hung on for a 64-59 win over Pacific in a West Coast Conference game on Saturday.
Santa Clara (14-13, 6-7) built a 20-point halftime lead behind 10 3-pointers but saw that advantage whittled to three points twice in the final 2 minutes.
Pacific (13-14, 3-9), which shot 58 percent in the second half, had a chance to tie the game in the final minute but Roberto Gallinat's 3-pointer missed the mark.
The Broncos, who went without a field goal for the final 9 minutes and turned the ball over 19 times in the game, closed it out by making 4 of 6 from the free-throw line in the last 23 seconds.
Khy Kabellis posted a career-high 13 points and Gallinat, the team's leading scorer, added 12 for the Tigers who connected on 58 percent from the floor in the second half. Anthony Townes recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"In the second half, you have to give Pacific credit," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek. "They showed incredible toughness and were extremely physical with us. They battled. Our guys took several punches but didn't hit the mat and we were able to hold on."
A barrage of 3-pointers in the first half, including five in a row at one point, helped the Broncos turn a one-point lead to a 28-15 advantage. Keshawn Justice, who had 11 points, closed out the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Broncos its biggest lead in the game, 41-21.
"I thought our guys came out and just played outstanding basketball on both ends in the first half," Sendek said. "We really set the tone with our defense and we were really making our shots. When you do that things open up for you."
Justice and Caruso each made three 3-pointers as the Broncos went 11-for-24 from beyond the arc in the game.
Tahj Eaddy had 11 points and four assists, and Josh Martin hauled down 10 rebounds for the Broncos who shot just 33 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
Pacific trimmed the Broncos lead to 11 to open the second half with an 11-2 run. However, Santa Clara extended the lead to 16 on Henrik Jadersten's 3-pointer, the only three in the second half for the team.
The Broncos maintained a double-digit edge until the 4:23 mark when Gallinat hit a 3-pointer that cut the margin to seven.
Santa Clara assisted on 17 of 20 field goals, but made five baskets from the field in the second half to allow the Tigers to get back into the game but made 12 free throws in the half.
After going without a field goal in Thursday's home loss to Saint Mary's, Vrankic had 13 points in the opening half.
Trey Wertz had five points and nine assists, one shy of his career-high, for the Broncos but committed eight turnovers before fouling out with 1:19 left in the game.
• The Broncos have a 98-45 edge in a series that dates to 1905. This is the sixth season the Tigers have been a member of the West Coast Conference, with the Broncos leading 9-4 in that span. But the teams have faced each other every season since 1994-95. The 143 games played are the fifth-most among Santa Clara opponents. Santa Clara and Pacific had split the last four games in Leavey Center.
• The 10 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes were the most by the Broncos in any half this season. They have had seven three times: second half vs. Minnesota (Nov. 20); first half vs. Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 13); first half vs. Loyola Marymount (Jan. 26).
• The Broncos had their second-largest halftime lead (41-21) of the season. They led Mississippi Valley State 42-18 on Dec. 13.
• Caruso has scored in double figures in four of the last five games. His three 3-pointers matched his total of the season (3-for-12).
• Martin had his 11th double-digit rebounding effort of the season.
• Wertz had his streak of double-digit scoring outings snapped at nine games.
The Broncos play their final home game of the season on Saturday. Tipoff against San Francisco is set for 8 p.m. in Leavey Center.