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3 Things: Santa Clara’s climb and more from Thursday night in the WCC

The Broncos are for real, folks.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Santa Clara
Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

If weeknight college hoops from the Pacific time zone takes place too late for you, worry not.

We’ve got you covered. Here are the three biggest stories from Thursday night’s WCC action.

Santa Clara rides the three ball into a tie for third

Don’t let the Broncos’ record (12-10, 6-3 WCC) fool you. This team is good, and they’ve been good since KJ Feagin (16 points) returned from injury on Dec. 22. Feagin missed the Broncos’ first 12 games, during which they went 5-7. They’re 7-3 since his return with quality wins over Valparaiso (on the road no less) and after last night, BYU.

The Cougars aren’t a team that really plays defense, at all. And that bit them against the Broncos, who went 14-of-31 from long range while BYU managed a meager three-of-15 from distance.

Jared Brownridge scored a game high 25 points. Nate Kratch added 16 and 10 rebounds.

Eric Mika led BYU with 22 points, but fell short of an eighth straight double-double. The Cougars as a team managed just 13 assists against 18 turnovers.

With the Broncos victory, Santa Clara and BYU have now split the season series and sit tied for third place in the WCC standings with 6-3 records.

No. 3 Gonzaga stays undefeated with defense

Two weeks ago San Diego (10-11, 3-6 WCC) dropped 88 points in a win over BYU. Thursday in Spokane the Toreros didn’t manage half that many points as Gonzaga (21-0, 9-0) took down San Diego 79-43 in the Kennel.

“That’s not an anomaly,” head coach Mark Few said about the Zags’ defensive performance. “That’s what we set out to do.”

San Diego hit five-of-14 threes in the first half, but went zero for-six from deep in the second half. The Zags rank second in the nation in defensive efficiency, holding teams to a paltry 0.878 points per possession this season.

Nigel Williams-Goss led the game with 25 points. Johnathan Williams posted his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

If Gonzaga does what is expected and wins Saturday at Pepperdine, there’s no excuse for AP voters to not put Few’s team atop the poll for the first time since 2013.

Saint Mary’s survives scare from San Francisco

The No. 21 Gaels improved to 18-2 (8-1) with a 66-46 win over San Francisco (14-7, 4-5) in Moraga. Playing at home and against a Dons team that hasn’t impressed in conference play, this was an expected win for Randy Bennett’s Gaels.

But at halftime the two teams were tied at 30.

San Francisco managed just 16 second half points as the Gaels pulled away for a 66-46 victory.

On Australia Day, the Aussie-laden Gaels were led by Sydney’s Emmett Naar (18 points, six assists). Calvin Hermanson added 18 points and Joe Rahon dished out eight assists.

Saint Mary’s isn’t close to needing to win every game to ensure its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013, but the Gaels can’t afford to slip either. With their win tonight and BYU losing to Santa Clara, the Gaels are solidly in second place in the WCC.