It was almost a collapse, but San Diego got the job done when it mattered most.
San Diego (11-11, 4-6 WCC) survived a 13-3 Broncos run in the final minute and held on to beat Santa Clara 69-64. Vasa Pusica led the way for the Toreros with 16 points off the bench, while Johnny Dee added 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
The Toreros started off slow in the first half, but slowly built a double-digit lead going into halftime. They held a sizable lead throughout most of the second half and lead the Broncos 62-49 with 57 seconds left. That’s where things started to turn.
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Santa Clara (11-11, 5-5 WCC) started a huge run with threes from Brandon Clark and Denzel Johnson that cut San Diego’s lead to eight points. A jumper by Johnson, a three-point jumper from Clark, and a jumper from Jared Brownridge brought Santa Clara within three with 22 seconds remaining. Two pairs of free throws from Johnny Dee and Thomas Jacobs sealed the victory for the Toreros.
The box score from this game is a little misleading. San Diego shot 51.2% from the field and 70% from behind the arc, all while limiting Santa Clara to 34.5% of their shots. With stats like that, one might wonder how Santa Clara stayed in this game.
One stat that stands out is offensive rebounds. Santa Clara owned San Diego on the offensive glass 19-6, and edged out the Toreros in total rebounds 36-31. This allowed Santa Clara to get extra possessions that kept them within striking distance.
The win gives San Diego sole possession of sixth place in the WCC at 4-6, while Santa Clara moves down to fifth place with a 5-5 conference record.
San Diego hosts San Francisco on Saturday.
Santa Clara plays at BYU on Saturday.