SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Josip Vrankic posted a game-high 20 points and Tahj Eaddy added 16, to lead Santa Clara men's basketball to a 68-65 victory over West Coast Conference rival San Francisco in Saturday's back-and-forth affair.
Santa Clara (15-13, 7-7) scored the last five points and held San Francisco scoreless for the final 3-plus minutes in a game that saw 10 ties and 13 lead changes.
Frankie Ferrari's 3-pointer with 3:23 remaining to put the Dons (21-7, 9-5) ahead 65-63, but that was their last points of the game.
Henrik Jadersten, playing in his final home game on Senior Night, scored on a layup to tie the game at 65-all before Trey Wertz's driving layup with 2:29 left put the Broncos up for good.
In the final 21 seconds, the Broncos twice had opportunities to make it a two-possession game, however, Tahj Eaddy missed the second free throw after converting the first to make it 68-65.
Wertz then missed both free throws with 7 seconds remaining to allow the Dons to drive down the court but could not get a shot off. After each team exchanged timeouts, Ferrari's desperation heave on an inbounds play with 0.8 seconds remaining fell harmlessly to give the Broncos the win.
"It was a great team effort tonight and it was a great basketball game," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek. "We showed a lot tonight and it was a hell of a win."
The Broncos shot 46 percent from the floor and held a 13 to 7 advantage on made free throws. Santa Clara also forced the Dons into 15 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the Broncos.
"We did a really good job at locking them in, executing the game plan, just played with great effort and awareness," Sendek said. "The defense down low was just tremendous."
Ferrari had 17 points to lead the Dons and was joined by Jimbo Lull (12) as the only players in double figures.
Wertz and Guglielmo Caruso each scored 13 points for the Broncos who now sit along in fifth place in the WCC standings.
Vrankic had 13 points in the opening half which featured five lead changes. His layup with 4:30 left gave the Broncos a 29-23 edge, the largest for either team in the game.
The Broncos led by that margin twice in the opening 6 minutes of the second half, but neither led by more than three points in the final 13:35 of the game.
Vrankic had a game-high nine rebounds and was 8-for-9 from the free-throw line.
"We have to keep getting better and better," Sendek said. "We have a lot of room to get better I think."
• The series began in 1908 and the Broncos hold a 116-109 lead. The 225 meetings are the second-most of any Santa Clara opponent (226 vs. Saint Mary's). The teams have split the two meetings each of the last two seasons.
• Five Broncos – Henrik Jadersten, Luke Martin-Resnick, Josh Martin, Fallou Ndoye and Johnny Sawyer – made their final home appearance and were recognized in a pregame ceremony.
• Caruso has scored in double figures in five of the last six games.
• Wertz has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games.
• Santa Clara won the turnover battle (10 to 15) for just the seventh time this season - San Jose State (Nov. 24), Idaho (Dec. 21), San Diego (Jan. 3), Pacific (Jan. 19), Portland (Feb. 2) and Pepperdine (Feb. 7). The Broncos won all those contests.
• Herb Sendek served as a head coach in his 800th career game.
The Broncos play their final two regular season games on the road. They meet LMU on Thursday and Portland on Saturday.
AUDIO | Miss tonight's postgame interview with Coach Sendek on KDOW-AM 1220? No problem listen to him chat with @PassarelliVoice & @StegeJohn about the big win over @USFDonsMBB— Santa Clara Men's Basketball (@SantaClaraHoops) February 24, 2019
��️ https://t.co/ZtZFcslzfC#StampedeAhead #WCCHoops pic.twitter.com/na0IAAp9Ep