Early in the first round game in the 2015 WCC Tournament between the San Clara Broncos and Loyola Marymount Lions on Friday, Jared Brownridge got wide open looks at two three point attempts. Although it was early, you could feel that how his shots looked in those moments would say a lot about how the game would go. Brownridge drained both, and the Broncos were off and running towards what ended up being a dominant 85-54 victory.Jan 10, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Santa Clara Broncos guard Jared Brownridge (23) attempts a free throw against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs won 79-57. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Brownridge and Brand Clark both contributed 19 points as the Broncos jumped ahead early and turned it into a blowout in the second half. Jarvis Pugh had one of his finest games with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and one thundering dunk that helped build the momentum after the early makes by Brownridge. Denzel Johnson, Nate Kratch, and Matt Hubbard each chipped in 8 points as the Broncos shot a stellar 55% from field goal range and went 9-17 from three point range.
While everything was going right for the Broncos, everything was going wrong for the Lions. They started slow and never got it going as they were out of it almost as soon as the early Brownridge three pointers fell. Evan Payne came off the bench to contribute a game-high 29 points, but he got very little support. Egbeyemi Ayodeji contributed 14 points, but the entire rest of the roster combined for just 11 points.
The struggles of the Lions were reflected in most major stat categories as the Broncos dominated every facet of the game. The only big win for LMU was a 6-1 advantage in blocks, but it meant little with how well the Broncos were shooting.
The Broncos also had another fine defensive performance forcing 15 turnovers. They continue to quietly be one of the better defenses in the WCC at forcing opponents into mistakes, and it should serve them well in the coming rounds against teams with superior talent. They will need their defensive ability to slow down the scoring of higher seeded teams.
The Lions finish the season at 8-24 for the worst record in the conference. They will look to go back to Los Angeles and continue to rebuild under Mike Dunlap. Santa Clara meanwhile is riding a ton of momentum after their upset over Saint Mary’s in the regular season finale and now this dominant win in Vegas. If they continue to shoot this well, rebound efficiently, and force turnovers, they will be a significant challenge for BYU when the teams meet in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Broncos might be one of the best candidates right now to go on a Cinderella run and disrupt the bracket. Catch their game against BYU at 8:00 PM Pacific on ESPN2. The winner of that game will head to the semifinals on Monday to face either #3 Saint Mary’s or #6 Portland.