It was quite an evening of West Coast Conference vs. Pac-12 action on Saturday. The Gonzaga Bulldogs made a trip to beautiful Westwood, CA to take on the UCLA Bruins, the Pepperdine Waves traveled to the desert to battle the Arizona State Sun Devils, and the Santa Clara Broncos hosted the Washington State Cougars in what was a west coast action-packed night.
March 8, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Santa Clara Broncos guard Brandon Clark (3) shoots against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard David Stockton (11) during the second half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The WCC made quite a statement on Saturday as it took home two victories over the Pac-12. Gonzaga handed UCLA its first home loss of the season and Santa Clara was able to take down Washington State at home. Only Pepperdine, who put up a strong fight throughout the entire game, lost to Arizona State.
Santa Clara, in particular, made a favorable impression after picking up their most impressive win of the season. Coming into this game, the Broncos had been on a four-game losing streak against the Cougars. And prior to their wins against Rider and San Jose State last week, Santa Clara went on a four-game drought against an extremely tough slate of opponents, including Michigan State and Tennessee.
That four-game skid really put a damper on the Broncos’ season. It was compounded by the devastating injury to key big man Yannick Atanga that will put him out for the rest of the season. But it undoubtedly gave them some good practice against quality teams, and the experience and time to develop a new gameplan without Atanga should prove key later in the year.. Although they weren’t able to pull out a victory against those talented opponents, they used that experience to their advantage against Washington State.
Jared Brownridge led the Broncos with 25 points, including five shots from beyond the arc. The sophomore guard had a .571 FG % and went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Brandon Clark also contributed 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting and Denzel Johnson added 12.
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What was so spectacular for Santa Clara, though, was the number of solid performances and contributions from their entire squad. Four players scored in double figures for the Broncos (Brownridge, Clark, Johnson, and freshman guard Kai Healy). If Santa Clara continues to share the wealth as much as they did against the Cougars, they will give the rest of the West Coast Conference some serious trouble.
What’s even more impressive, though, is that this is Santa Clara’s first win over a Pac-12 opponent since they defeated Stanford on November 25, 2004.
Head coach Kerry Keating and his team can hold their heads up high after this victory. The Broncos have done a great job at responding to that four-game losing streak, as this marks their third W in a row.