GAME NOTES: Long-time rivals meet up at War Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday, as the Santa Clara Broncos challenge the San Francisco Dons in a West Coast Conference tussle.
Idle since last Saturday, The Broncos take to the court after being tamed at home by BYU, 91-81. That was the third straight loss for Santa Clara.
Last time out, San Francisco beat San Diego in a 77-69 final. That win snapped a two-game losing streak, and left the Dons at 6-4 in their last 10 outings.
In a series that dates back to the 1908-09 campaign, Santa Clara holds a 111-101 advantage. San Francisco has won five of the last eight and six of the last 10 in the series on the heels of seven-game Santa Clara run. However, the Broncos swept last year's season series, claiming a 74-69 verdict at the Leavey Center on Jan. 2, and a 85-54 decision on the Hilltop just about two weeks later. The 31-point loss was USF's worst home loss of the season.
Jared Brownridge poured in 30 points and Brandon Clark added 20 for Santa Clara in the recent loss to BYU. Despite shooting 7-of-12 from beyond the arc, and 56.7 percent overall in the second half, the Bronco lost as they allowed the Cougars to drain 65.2 percent from the field in the second stanza.
Santa Clara has been outshot by its opponents this season, .434 to .460, but has a +1.6 scoring margin in part because it shines from long distance, draining 7.7 3-pointers per contest, knocking them down at a 37.9 percent clip. Clark (17.7 ppg) is third in the WCC in scoring and has hit 38 treys at 38 percent accuracy, while Brownridge (16.6 ppg, fifth best in the conference) has been even more effective from long range (.449) and is tops in the conference in 3-pointers, averaging 2.9 per game. Evan Roquemore rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 11.6 ppg, but he struggles from the field, shooting just 35.4 percent.
Avry Holmes nailed a jumper with 12 seconds remaining to lift San Francisco over San Diego. Holmes finished with 15 points and Kruize Pinkins posted a double-double consisting of 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Dons. Cole Dickerson added 10 points. Despite shooting 57.1 percent from the floor in the second half, USF had the game tied at 62-62 in the final minute, setting the stage for the last-second shot.
The Dons perform well at the offensive end, ranking third in the WCC in scoring (77.6 ppg) and second in field goal percentage (.483). Dickerson (14.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) anchors the squad on the interior, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. Providing depth are Pinkins (12.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Mark Tollefsen (11.4 ppg) and Holmes (11.8 ppg).
The Dons can light up the scoreboard, so expect them to prevail at home against a Santa Clara squad struggling to get on track.
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