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2013 CBI Championship: Santa Clara Feeds Trasolini to Earn Title

Marc Trasolini went on a run early in the second half to help Santa Clara pull away -- and then survive -- George Mason in the CBI's decisive third game of the Championship series.

Lance King

Careers were coming to an end Friday night. After the final buzzer, Santa Clara would no longer have Kevin Foster, or Raymond Cowels, or Marc Trasolini.

This was the final chance to make good on the promise that followed these three throughout their career -- a promise that was broken last season, and this year didn't quite come through. All might be forgotten now.

The Broncos closed out George Mason when a Patrick Holloway 3-pointer to tie the game in the final seconds rimmed off, giving Santa Clara the 80-77 win and the 2013 CBI Championship.

But before it all came to a close, the Broncos had some unfinished business to take care of. First it was Trasolini, who came alive in the second half after just four first-half points. The Italian-Canadian, man-in-the-middle for the Broncos scored 16 in the second half including a run where he scored 10 of 12 points for the Broncos. He finished with 20 points, enough to move him past Steve Nash and into fifth on the all-time Santa Clara scoring list.

The Broncos needed every last bit of it. After two games, where Trasolini had been less of a factor than expected, the red-shirt senior helped turn a four-point halftime deficit into a three-point lead.

The game would remain a back and forth effort after that, but it was the Broncos that then controlled the momentum, not George Mason.

Consider when Vertrail Vaughns nailed a 3-pointer off the bench to tie the game with just under eight minutes remaining. It didn't take long for Kevin Foster to match that on the Santa Clara end, and sustain the three point cushion. Unlike Monday night when George Mason could get some runs; unlike Wednesday night when the Patriots could do no wrong, this was just a game where their time ran out.

It wasn't like the Patriots didn't get 24 points from Sherrod Wright, who was massively effective in the loss. He added 10 rebounds to go with his two dozen points, but at no point did it seem he really took control.

That was Trasolini who did that. His mini personal run allowed Kevin Foster to get free on the outside again ... well that and Foster's ability to break ankles when he desired.

Step back three? Why not! Shake and bake? Sure thing.

That was Foster's game on his way to matching Wright's 24 and adding four assists and two steals. His 5-for-13 night from 3-point range wasn't exactly what he would hope for, even at a respectable 38.4 percent. But it was better than the Broncos could do on Wednesday night, when they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their long-range shooting.

Santa Clara finished the night shooting just 30 percent from three, but tonight -- for a change -- it was Trasolini's play that was the most important.

George Mason took over the mantle of poor long range shooters. The Patriots went just 6 of 25 from 3-point range, including an 0-for-5 performance from Holloway, the freshman who had come off the bench to make such key shots in the first two games. He finished with just two points, but this will be a dangerous weapon for the Patriots in 2013-14.

Perhaps they would have liked it a little better to be back in the tiny gym, also known as the volleyball court, that they played in Wednesday.

Despite Wright's 24 points, Jonathan Arledge's 16 points and seven rebounds and Erik Copes' 11 boards, the Broncos were able to overcome the issues.

And that will close the book on the Kevin Foster era at Santa Clara. The departing senior finished as the all-time scoring leader for Santa Clara. Evan Roquemore dished six assists passing John Woolery for the top , ... yes, even more than Steve Nash.

So it was a night of personal and team achievements for Santa Clara, a last hurrah for the very important senior class. And maybe that is what is important here: trying to duplicate this next season won't be so easy without Foster (again, see last season), and his isn't the only one that is leaving.

But Foster sure gave a show while on the court. He deserves all the accolades he will win this season, a testament to his work on and off the court during his time in school. And he only became the top scorer over the course of the CBI Tournament.

This game proved that Santa Clara didn't need one person to do the tough work for them. They could use any of the starters from this lineup. Tonight it was Trasolini in addition to Foster. Monday it was Roquemore.

Notice that Foster was never the most important player on the floor. That is how good this Santa Clara team was for most of the season.

And now that goodness includes a trophy.