Men’s Basketball Pulls Away from Portland in Regular-Season Finale

Men’s Basketball Pulls Away from Portland in Regular-Season Finale

AUDIO: Sendek Postgame Interview on KTRB-AM 860 | AUDIO: Eaddy Postgame Interview on KTRB-AM 860

West Coast Conference Tournament Central

PORTLAND, Ore. – Santa Clara men's basketball rode the hot-shooting of Tahj Eaddy to a victory in its regular-season finale.

Eaddy posted 26 points on an 8-for-12 performance from behind the 3-point line, Trey Wertz scored 19, including 14 in the second half, and Josip Vrankic added 15 to lead the Broncos to a 78-62 win over Portland on Saturday.

Marcus Shaver Jr. tallied 16 points and Jacob Tryon added 10 for the Pilots (7-24, 0-16 West Coast Conference) who rallied to take a brief lead midway through the second half, but Santa Clara (16-14, 8-8) closed the game on a 20-8 run.

The Broncos finished tied for fifth in the WCC standings and could meet Portland next week in Las Vegas at the league tournament. On Friday, Santa Clara, the sixth seed, will play the winner of the matchup between No. 7 seed San Diego and the 10th-seeded Pilots who face off one day earlier.

"We made some really big shots we got stops," Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek said. "Maybe the storyline tonight for us tonight was we shot the ball well and we took care of the ball."

Santa Clara, which equaled its season-low of six turnovers, led by seven early in the second half, but the Pilots pulled ahead 49-48 on a 3-pointer by JoJo Walker.

Vrankic followed with a dunk and Keshawn Justice nailed a pair of 3-pointers for the Broncos who shot 54 percent from the floor, including 60 percent in the second half.

Eaddy then helped the Broncos pull away. He connected on two 3-pointers for a 66-54 lead with 4 minutes left.

Wertz, who had nine assists and just one turnover, scored the final six for Santa Clara, which made 11 3-pointers, matching their season-best total in conference play.

The Broncos got off to a fast start with Eaddy scoring 11 of the first 13 points. A three-point play from Vrankic gave Santa Clara an 18-8 lead.

The Pilots closed within three later in the half, but Eaddy answered with a 3-pointer with 3:37 left, one of only two field goals for either team in the final 4 minutes of the half.

Eaddy was just one 3-pointer shy of tying the school record. Kevin Foster had nine against Air Force on March 18, 2011.

The Broncos tied with Loyola Marymount in the conference standings, but lost the tiebreaker by virtue of the Lions sweeping the season series, including Thursday's comeback victory in Los Angeles.

• In a series that began in 1946, Santa Clara leads 66-33. It has been a series of streaks in recent years. The Broncos have captured the last eight meetings, which followed a three-game winning streak for Portland. Santa Clara was victorious in the previous three before that 10-game stretch.
• Wertz set the school's freshman assist record. He needed six to eclipse the record of 139 by Evan Roquemore in 2010-11 and tallied nine in the game. Wertz now has 143 on the year.
Josh Martin, who missed Thursday's LMU game due to illness, returned to the starting lineup and played 16 minutes.
• Wertz who has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 13 games. He had a career-high three steals in the game.
Guglielmo Caruso posted 10 points and six rebounds. He has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games.

The Broncos open WCC tournament play on Friday as the No. 6 seed. They will face San Diego or Portland at 8 p.m. in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

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