Santa Clara, Calif. – With the sell-out crowd looking for a repeat of last year's heroic Bronco win over the Zags, despite playing Gonzaga tough for nearly 40 minutes, the Broncos fell 73-62 to No. 23 Gonzaga in the Leavey Center on Thursday night. Santa Clara falls to 8-18 overall and 0-13 in West Coast Conference action. The Bulldogs improve to 21-4, 11-2 in WCC action.
Santa Clara shot 37.1 percent from the field (10-21), including 47.6 percent beyond the arc (10 of 21). They collected 22 rebounds, 13 assists, two blocks and nine steals. The Broncos shot 72.7percent from the charity stripe (8 of 11) and turned the ball over seven times.
Gonzaga shot 61.0 percent from the field (25 of 41), including 33.3 percent beyond the arc (3 of 9). They collected 34 rebounds, 17 assists, five blocks and two steals. The Bulldogs shot 74.1 percent from the charity stripe (20 of 27) and turned the ball over 14 times.
The Zags were led by Robert Sacre's 20 points (8-11 free throws), while Sam Dower chipped in 18 points and five rebounds. Elias Harris was the only other Zag in dobule-digits with ten points.
Cowels III hit a mid-range jumper and Harrison spiked home a dunk to give the Broncos a quick 4-0 lead. Santa Clara came out with stifling defense, holding the Zags without a field goal over the first three and a half minutes. Sacre and Johnson traded buckets and the scored was tied at six after the first media timeout.
Pangos drilled a three from the right side but three minutes later Brandon Clark drilled a three from the side left side, giving the Broncos an 11-9 edge at 12:55. The Zags answered with a 10-0 run thanks to eight points from Dower.
B. Clark ended the run with a bank three to beat the shot clock, cutting the lead to 19-14 at 8:02. After a Carter free throw, Dower slammed home an inbound pass to push the Zags lead to eight. Cowels III drilled a three from the right side, but the Bulldog frontcourt again answered the Broncos as Sacre drilled four straight free throws making it 26-19 at 4:52.
The Broncos would chip away as Johnson and Carter swapped points before Johnson and Cowels hit mid-range jumpers to cut the lead back to five. Pangos and Roquemore each finished at the rack and Cowels hit two of three at the free throw line. Dower hit two free throws before the half ended and the Zags took a 32-27 lead into the break.
Santa Clara shot 35.7 percent from the field (10 to 28), including 33.3 percent beyond the arc (3 of 9). They collected 13 rebounds, four assists, one blocks and four steals. The Broncos shot 80 percent from the charity stripe (8 of 10) and turned the ball over four times. Individually Santa Clara was led by Cowels III with nine points and two rebounds. Johnson chipped in six for Santa Clara while B. Clark hit two threes.
Gonzaga shot 47.8 percent from the field (11 of 23), including 14.3 percent beyond the arc (1 of 7). They collected 18 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals. The Zags shot 90.0 percent from the charity stripe (9 of 10) and turned the ball over six times.
The Bulldogs stormed out of the gate in the second half with a 7-2 run, including five from Sacre. After the Zags pushed the game to double digits Johnson responded with a three from the right side. Bell hit a free throw but Cowels III answered with a three from the left wing.
Cowels III made one of two after Sacre was assessed a technical following his dunk. McArthur hit his second baseline jumper and Roquemore buried a three from the top of the three point line to cut the Zags lead to two at 14:10. The Bulldogs took advantage on the offensive glass, as Sacre went one-for-four at the line and Harris finished inside all on one trip down the floor.
Roquemore ended a 7-0 Gonzaga run with a left winged three, but Harris dunked it for Gonzaga. The Zags continued to answer Santa Clara, as Gary Bell Jr's three from the right corner pushed the Bulldog lead to 12 to 9:59. Roquemore scored 5 straight including his third three of the half to cut the lead back to 7.
Dower finished a layup on the inside and Pangos finished a second chance opportunity for three. The Broncos continued to try and edge closer, as Cowels III hit a corner trey ball. Gonzaga pushed the lead back to 13 before Roquemore finished a tough inside layup at 2:58. The Broncos could not cut the lead to any less than nine the rest of the way.