SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With wins in three of its last four games, Santa Clara men's basketball opens play in the 2019 University Credit Union West Coast Conference Championship in Las Vegas on Friday in the second round as the No. 6 seed.
The Broncos (16-14, 8-8) will face seventh-seeded San Diego, which downed No. 10 seed Portland, 67-47, in Thursday's opening round. Tipoff is 8 p.m. in Orleans Arena.
Santa Clara won the lone meeting with the Toreros (19-13, 7-9) and is coming off a 78-62 road victory over the Pilots. Tahj 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 for the Broncos who shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and went 11-for-22 from behind the 3-point line in the game.
The victory enabled the Santa Clara to finish tied for fifth in the WCC standings with Loyola Marymount.
• Tahj Eaddy (15.3 ppg) is first among four Santa Clara players scoring in double figures. Josip Vrankic is averaging 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds (second on the team) per game, and ranks 10th in the West Coast Conference in field-goal percentage (52.9). Trey Wertz (12.2 ppg) and Keshawn Justice (9.8) rank first and second, respectively, among WCC freshmen in scoring. Wertz is also sixth overall in assists (4.8 pg). Josh Martin is the leading rebounder at 7.9 per contest (fourth in the WCC). Martin and Henrik Jadersten are tied for first in the team in 3-point shooting (40.0 percent).
• After a 1-5 start, the Broncos have gone 15-9 with a roster that receives 74.3 percent (1,537 of 2,070 points) of its offensive production from first-year players.
• Injuries have plagued the Broncos and shrunk the available scholarship players to nine (only eight for 19 games). Two-time All-WCC guard KJ Feagin (foot) and Juan Ducasse (knee) are out for the season. Fallou Ndoye (foot) returned to action against San Francisco (Feb. 9) after missing 19 games.
• Eaddy (second team), Vrankic (honorable mention) and Wertz (all freshman) earned All-West Coast Conference recognition this week.
• Vrankic is one of only four players in the league to average at least 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 50.0-plus percent from the field. Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke of Gonzaga, and Yoeli Childs of BYU – each first-team All-WCC selections - join Vrankic on the list.
• Wertz (143) is the top freshman assist producer in school history. In Saturday's win over Portland, he eclipsed the mark of Evan Roquemore (139 in 2010-11).
• Santa Clara ranks in the middle of the pack in the WCC in a number of statistical categories. However, the Broncos are third in blocked shots (3.5 pg), but 10th in both turnover margin (-2.9 pg) and steals (4.6 pg). The Broncos have been improving at the free-throw line. They rank eighth in the league (72.1), but after shooting 68.8 percent in the first 18 games, they are hitting at a 77.8 percent clip in the last 12.
|Tickets||Orleans Arena | TixCity|
|TV||NBC Bay Area Plus | Spectrum SN | BYUtv|
|Game Notes||Santa Clara | San Diego|
YEAR THREE UNDER SENDEK...
The Broncos are in their 112th year of existence, including third under Herb Sendek, who has been successful in each of his three previous head-coaching stops. With a resume that includes 18 postseason appearances and three conference coach of the year awards, Sendek, was one of the three youngest coaches with 400 or more career victories. He is in his 25th season as a collegiate head coach with stops at Arizona State, North Carolina State and Miami (Ohio).
BRONCOS IN THE WCC TOURNEY
Santa Clara has a 28-30 all-time record in the West Coast Conference tournament, which began with the 1986-87 season. The Broncos have won two tournament titles, at the conclusion of the 1986-87 and 1992-93 seasons.
THE SAN DIEGO SERIES...
In a series that began in 1953, Santa Clara leads, 48-37, with wins in nine of the last 13 meetings. The teams split two matchups last season and in 2016-17. The Broncos won 68-56 in this year's conference opener (Jan. 3), but the previous five meetings have been decided by a total of 21 points.
• After averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in the first 22 games, Guglielmo Caruso has averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in the last eight ... Trey Wertz has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 13 games ... Josip Vrankic is averaging a team-high 16.3 points on a team-best 59.4 percent shooting from the floor in 13 games away from home (two neutral/11 road) ... Tahj Eaddy has hit 74 of his last 87 (85.1 percent) from the free-throw line, including 4 of 5 in the final 19 seconds in the victory vs. Pepperdine (Jan. 10), all 12 attempts in the win over San Diego (Jan. 3) and 12 of 13 against LMU (Feb. 28).
• Santa Clara has lost the turnover battle in all but eight games - San Jose State (Nov. 24), Idaho (Dec. 21), San Diego (Jan. 3), Pacific (Jan. 19), Portland (Feb. 2), Pepperdine (Feb. 7), San Francisco (Feb. 23) and Portland (March 2). The Broncos won all those games.
Anthony Passarelli (play-by-play) and John Stege (analyst) call the action during the season on radio and through TheW.tv at home. All Broncos home games and West Coast Conference contests (not on an ESPN platform or BYUtv) are streamed through TheW.tv (local blackout restrictions apply for games broadcast over the air). So far this season, 25 games aired on either KDOW-AM 1220 or KTRB-AM 860. The remainder were heard on Livestream.com. Friday's game be heard on KDOW-AM 1220. Click here to view broadcast outlets for the season.