Turning the ball over just once in the final three seconds to shatter the school record for the fewest turnovers in a game, Santa Clara battled to the end, but Portland came away with a 74-72 in the play-in game of the WCC Championship. The loss ends the Broncos season as the Pilots move on to play USF tomorrow in the first round of the WCC Championship.
Santa Clara turned the ball over just once in the final seconds, topping the three turnovers by the Broncos vs. No. 19 Alabama on Dec. 28, 1996 (a 77-62 Bronco win).
"I'm proud of our guys especially under tough circumstances as has been the case the last four or five weeks," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "They have proven a lot about themselves and their future. Almost one possession away – the end was about as close as you can get. I wish congratulations to Portland as they advance to play USF."
"Evan knows how to get to the free throw line. He made really good decisions tonight," continued Keating. "With only one turnover, at the very end of the game, that speaks to his maturity. The entire season has been a huge learning experience for everyone: coaches, players and staff. We were down by 13 tonight in the second half and we fought hard to take the lead late. We showed a lot by coming back and trying to win the game in our last possession."
Keating also praised senior Phillip Bach and wished him well. The four-year walk-on talked about next year's seniors: "I told them in the lockerroom that they were a really good group next year and I wish them well. It's been tough, but we have all learned a lot this year; and for me, I learned a lot in my four years."
Santa Clara played its third straight game without starting forward John McArthur who suffered a concussion early in the second half vs. BYU on Feb. 18. McArthur had started 25 of 26 games this season.
Santa Clara (8-22) shot 37.5 percent from the field (24-64), including 35.7 percent beyond the arc (5 of 14). They collected 26 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and two blocks. The Broncos shot 85.0 percent from the charity stripe (17 of 20) and turned the ball over a school-record one time.
The Broncos put four players in double figures for the first time since their game at BYU on Jan. 12, 2012. Evan Roquemore led the team with 21 points, Niyi Harrison collected 15, Raymond Cowels III 11 and Denzel Johnson 10. Roquemore was 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Harrison and Yannick Atanga both grabbed four rebounds and Roquemore had three assists. Brandon Clark led the team with three steals.
Portland (7-23) shot 56.8 percent from the field (25 of 44), including 50.0 percent beyond the arc (8 of 16). They collected 34 rebounds, 17 assists, zero steals and seven blocks. The Pilots shot 94.1 percent from the charity stripe (16 of 17) and turned the ball over 15 times.
Individually for the Pilots Ryan Nicholas led the team with 24 points. Kevin Bailey added 13 and Tanner Riley 12. Nicholas also collected 11 rebounds and David Carr dished out a team-high six assists.
Opening the game, the Pilots hit a pair of free throws at 19:11 before Cowels III hit a three at 18:53. Roquemore connected on a floater off the glass at 18:12.
After Nicholas scored his first bucket, Roquemore hit the second of two free throws and Harrison tipped it in to make it 8-4 Broncos at 16:22. K. Bailey scored at 15:52 and then Cowels III scored inside at 15:44.
The teams traded basket to tie it up 12-12. Cowels III crushed his second three at 13:28 after he collected the defensive rebound on the other end. Portland answered at 12:29.
Cason's dunk at 11:45 and another basket inside gave Portland a 19-15 at 10:20. Cowels III scored his third three at 8:36. Nicholas scored inside at 8:05 and K. Bailey hit another pair of free throws at 7:07 to make it 23-18 Portland.
Cowels III scored his 11th point of the game with a 12-footer from the top of the key. B. Clark's bucket on a dandy pass by Roquemore cut the Pilots lead to four, 26-22 at 5:45. K. Bailey hit a three and then the teams traded baskets again with Harrison scoring inside to make it 31-24 at 4:06.
Roquemore crushed a three and then B. Clark stole the ball and Harrison made the most of it inside to pull the Broncos within two at 3:12, 31-29. J. Bailey scored a pair of free throws to keep the Pilots perfect at the line.
Trading baskets, Jordan Akwenuke tipped it in at 2:10. A Pilots and one made it 38-31 at 1:52.
A Pilot three with 48.2 seconds left gave them a 10-point lead. Garrett went inside for a bucket with 36.2 seconds left. A pair of Roquemore free throws made it 41-35 with 3.4 seconds left, the same score at the half.
In the first half Santa Clara shot 40.0 percent from the field (14 of 35), including 50.0 percent beyond the arc (4 of 8). They collected 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block. The Broncos shot 60.0 percent from the charity stripe (3 of 5) and turned the ball over zero times. Individually for the Broncos Cowels III had 11 points and Harrison and Roquemore both added eight each. Atanga led the Broncos on the boards with four.
In the first half Portland shot 65.2 percent from the field (15 of 23), including 50.0 percent beyond the arc (4 of 8). They collected 16 rebounds, 10 assists, no steals and five blocks. The Pilots shot 100.0 percent from the charity stripe (7.7) and turned the ball over four times. Individually for the Pilots Nicholas had 12 as did K. Bailey. Nicholas also led the team with six rebounds.
K. Bailey picked up his third foul at 19:33 and hit the bench. Roquemore's three and Johnson's six-foot basket made it 44-40 Pilots at 18:15. The Pilots went on a 9-0 run to make their lead 13, the largest lead of the night at 16:08. The Broncos whistled for time.
Johnson stopped the run with an eight-foot bucket from the corner at 15:41. The Pilots took a 55-48 lead and then whistled for time at 12:11. Harrison's free throws cut the lead to five at 11:15, 55-50.
B. Clark was fouled at 9:55 and he sank both, pulling SCU within three, 55-52, at 9:55. The Broncos pulled within two, 56-54, at 8:55 on a bucket by Harrison.
Van der Mars made both free throws and Johnson scored inside to make it 58-56 Pilots at 7:38. Roquemore threw the ball in the hoop from six feet out at 6:39 to tie it up but the Pilots answered with a three at 6:16.
Johnson pumped it in off the glass at 5:14 to pull the Broncos within one. After B. Clark stole the ball, Roquemore was fouled shooting and he sank both to give the Broncos a 62-61 lead at 4:41.
The Pilots went on 9-2 run, Nicholas scored an and one at 4:24 and Tanner hit a three at 3:17.
After a mad scramble for the ball, Roquemore's pass inside resulted in a bucket for Akwenuke at 1:57. Van Der Mars scored an and one at 1:28, 70-64 Pilots.
Fouled, Roquemore stepped the line to knock down a pair of free throws at 1:20. 70-66 Pilots. Akwenuke fouled out at 1:14 and Douglas made both from the charity stripe.
Roquemore hit another pair of free throws after Riley picked up his fourth and made it 72-68 at 1:04. Timeout Broncos.
Van der Mars fouled Roquemore with 54.9 seconds left and he scored his fourth straight free throw in less than a minute to make it 72-70 Pilots.
Douglas was called for a charge with a second left on the Portland shot-clock, mowing over B. Clark with 19 seconds left. He made both.
Dribbling inside to get to the hoop, Roquemore was whistled for stepping out of bounds and the Broncos picked up their first turnover of the night with 5.8 seconds left. Riley dunked the ball with less than a second left to give the Pilots a 74-70 victory.