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Santa Clara Takes Down Pacific 81-64

The nine seed took down the eight seed in impressive fashion for the WCC Tournament's second upset in as many games. Santa Clara used a smothering defense and explosive offense to earn a berth in the quarterfinals.

Santa Clara's Evan Roquemore (24) and Denzel Johnson (20) pressure Pacific's T.J. Wallace in the WCC Tournament opening round.
Santa Clara's Evan Roquemore (24) and Denzel Johnson (20) pressure Pacific's T.J. Wallace in the WCC Tournament opening round.
Ethan Miller

Neither offense was able to get into a rhythm in the early going. That makes sense, Santa Clara is young and Pacific is playing in its first WCC Tournament.

The Broncos took a quick 5-0 lead with all five points coming from Jared Brownridge. They fell flat for the next four minutes. During that span the typically balanced Pacific offense was exactly that. Sama Taku, Tony Gill, Khalil Kelly and Andrew Bock scored during an 8-0 Tigers' run.

After those dueling runs, the teams went on a streak of trading misses and makes. Both teams rank in the bottom half of the conference in offensive efficiency, so that's not exactly surprising. However, neither team was playing close to its typical scoring pace over the first ten minutes.

Santa Clara was the first to really pull it together. During the regular season the Broncos were scoring at a rate of 1.03 points per possession, slightly above the national average but below the WCC average. In the first half they were averaging 1.06 points per possession, well above the Tigers' rate of 0.94.

Evan Roquemore was responsible for the Broncos' offensive turnaround. He scored all nine of his first half points over the final seven minutes.

Santa Clara kept going in the second half, but more efficiently. Jared Brownridge, much as he did early in the first, scored a lot of points in a little bit of time. By the sub-sixteen media timeout he had eight of his team's fifteen points. As a unit the Broncos were shooting 60% from the field. In five and a half minutes they had stretched their lead from five to twelve points.

It wasn't just exceptional offense, either. The Broncos forced six Pacific turnovers in the first six minutes of the half.

The Tigers just couldn't get anything going. Whenever they scored a big bucket or got a stop, the Broncos would answer. Nate Kratch would hit a three or Jerry Brown would force a jump ball or, most commonly, the Broncos would get an offensive rebound (or a couple). Only once in the half did Pacific manage to string together a run.

An 8-0 run from the six to four minute marks cut the Broncos' lead to 13. So, Nate Kratch put an end to that with a three from the corner.

About the only good thing going for Pacific down the stretch was the band's cow bell player.

The game can be summed up in one play. With 1:10 left Jared Brownridge had a three pointer tipped. It fell ten feet short of the basket, straight into the hands of Evan Roquemore, who put it up and in with ease. Both teams sent in their reserves, and it was all but over.

Brownridge finished with 20 points on 7-14 shooting (4-8 from three). His performance made clear he was in fact the WCC's Newcomer of the Year, the honor he received earlier this week. Roquemore added 17, Brandon Clark 15 and Jerry Brown 12. Nate Kratch took three shots, all threes, and made them all.

Santa Clara will now play top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday. The Broncos fell just short of taking down the Zags in Santa Clara on January 29th. It took a last second three from Sam Dower to push the Zags to a two point victory.