SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In the first game of the best of three final of the College Basketball Invitational presented by Buick, Santa Clara topped George Mason by a final of 81-73. It was the eighth consecutive post-season win for the Broncos. Santa Clara will now travel to George Mason to play at 4 pm Pacific on Wed., April 3 on AXS-TV nationally. The game will be rebroadcast on KDOW 1220 AM at 7 pm Pacific.
The win puts Santa Clara at 25-11 and George Mason is 21-14.
Santa Clara has won 25 games for just the second time in the 106-year school history of basketball; and 24+ games for the second time in three years under Coach Keating, having won 24 in 2010-11 when the Broncos won the CIT.
"It was a good overall effort tonight," said Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating. "It was a little close early and we were trying to make the home run plays late. We did a better job in the second half and had those three turnovers in the last two minutes. We have to understand how to handle the pressure at the end of a game. We're excited to have picked up the first win tonight."
Santa Clara shot 44.2 percent from the field (23-for-52), including 41.7 percent from beyond the arc (10-for-24). The Broncos shot 83.3 percent from the free throw line (25-for-30). They collected 30 rebounds, 12 assists, nine steals, three blocks and had 17 turnovers.
Santa Clara was led by Kevin Foster who scored 28 points on 7-15 shooting including 5-11 from deep. It was the fourth straight game in the CBI that Foster has scored at least 23 points. Evan Roquemore added 20 points on 5-10 shooting and a perfect 7-7 from the charity stripe with six assists and four rebounds. Marc Trasolini scored 17 on 6-10 shooting with a team-high seven rebounds.
"The team is really trusting one another and we don't want to lose," said Foster. "We're playing winning basketball on the defensive end. We didn't come out as hard as we should have in the second half, but we picked up the effort. We all want to end this season on a positive note."
"We had to win the first game because we have no intention of going to game three," said Trasolini. "We really want this to be a two-game series. This group hasn't lost yet in the post-season. We've had a lot of fun together in these five years in the Leavey Center and I'm so thankful for the memories."
George Mason shot 42.6 percent from the field (26-for-61), including 31.3 percent from beyond the arc (5-for-16). The Patriots shot 80.0 percent from the free throw line (16-for-20). They collected 20 rebounds, 12 assists, seven steals, one block and had 19 turnovers.
The Patriots were led by Jonathan Arledge who scored 21 points on 8-12 shooting and had eight rebounds. Patrick Holloway scored 17, all in the second half, on 6-10 shooting and 3-6 from downtown. Bryon Allen added 15 on 6-12 shooting with eight assists while Erik Copes grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds with four points.
The Patriots drew first blood at 19:03. Roquemore crushed a three from the top of the key at 18:32. Arledge scored a jumper at 18:12. Wright hit a pair of free throws at 17:22 to put Mason up 6-3.
SCU then went on a 7-0 run. Roquemore's wide-open three tied it up at 17:13. Roquemore's 40-foot inbounds pass to Foster resulted in a Bronco bucket at 16:18. Trasolini added a bucket at 15:59 to put SCU up 10-6.
Marko Gujanicic hit a sky-hook at 14:48 before Cowels III hit his first three at 14:36, 13-8 Broncos. Harrison's block of Gujanicic's shot brought the crowd to its at 13:53.
GMU then went on a 9-0 run of its own. It scored back-to-back baskets to pull within one at 12:01, 13-12. A free throw by Arledge tied it up 13-13 at 12:01. Arledge laid it in at 10:48 to put GMU up 15-13. Allen scored a pair of free throws at 9:42 to put Mason up 17-13.
Foster's first three of the night at 9:16 stopped the run. Paris Bennett added a jumper at 8:58.
The Broncos then went on a 16-2 run over 4:09. Roquemore scored his third three at 8:42 to tie it up 19-19. Atanga was fouled hard dunking and he made both free throws at 7:41.
A defensive rebound by Foster and a dandy pass to a trailing Roquemore made it 23-19 at 7:13. Foster's three at 6:32 made it 26-19 and Mason whistled for its second 30-second timeout in the last 30 seconds.
Trasolini stole the ball and Foster passed it to Roquemore who dribbled and scored from seven feet out at 6:16. Roquemore picked up his second foul, on Wright, and he stopped the run with a free throw at 5:36. Trasolini ran coast to coast and scored at 5:22.
Foster was knocked to the ground by Vaughns while shooting a three from the key and he sank the first two, 32-20 Broncos at 4:57.
Arledge added a pair of free throws at 4:35 and then dunked it at 4:16 to pull Mason within eight, 32-24. Foster scored his third three at 3:17 and Vaughns laid it in on the other end at 2:41, 35-26 Broncos.
Bennett scored a pair of free throws at 1:38. Trasolini responded with a dunk over the rim at 1:20. Vaughns nailed a three at 1:06. Cowels III scored on a tip-in dunk on a Foster miss with 25 seconds left to put SCU up 39-31 at the half.
In the first half Santa Clara shot 51.9 percent from the field (14-for-27), including 58.3 percent from beyond the arc (7-for-12). The Broncos shot 80.0 percent from the free throw line (4-for-5). They collected 15 rebounds, nine assists, two steals, three blocks and had 11 turnovers. The Broncos had a duo score 13 each in Roquemore and Foster, both hitting three threes. Trasolini grabbed five rebounds and Roquemore paced the offense with four assists.
George Mason shot 34.5 percent from the field (10-for-29), including 20.0 percent from beyond the arc (1-for-5). The Patriots shot 83.3 percent from the free throw line (10-for-12). They collected 18 rebounds, four assists, five steals, one block and had nine turnovers.
The Patriots were led by Arledge who scored 11 points on 4-5 shooting from the field while grabbing a game-high six boards. Vaughns added five points on 2-3 shooting and had the lone George Mason three in the first half. Allen and Bennett added four points each.
Trasolini tipped one in at 18:59 to start the second half and put the Broncos up 10. After a Patriots bucket, Foster hit his fourth three at 17:36, 44-33 Broncos. Foster's steal resulted in a fast break for the Broncos, but Trasolini was fouled working to the basket and he sank both free throws, 46-33, at 16:42.
Mason then went on an 11-1 run. George Mason scored three straight baskets, including a three by Holloway at 15:05, to pull within six, 46-40 Broncos. Trasolini was fouled inside by Arledge and he sank one at 14:39. Holloway's back-to-back baskets pulled the Patriots within three at 13:45. Timeout Broncos.
Cowels III crushed at three at 13:17 to stop the run before Holloway matched it 13:01, 50-47 Broncos. Arledge was fouled by Trasolini at 10:37 shooting and he made the second, 50-48 Broncos.
Trasolini's sweet bounce pass to Foster resulted in an easy lay-up at 10:20. Foster snared his second steal of the game and he was fouled when attacking the rim at 9:10. Foster sank both to put SCU up 54-48.
Roquemore was fouled going to the rim at 8:19 and he sank both. Arledge stole it from Foster in the key and Allen converted for two at 7:25. Harrison's put-back at 6:38 made the lead eight, 58-50 Broncos. Erik Copes picked up his fourth foul of the game on Cowels III at 6:01 and he sank both to put SCU back up 10, 60-50.
After a jumper by Arledge, Holloway's free throws made it 60-54 Broncos at 5:13. Foster made a pair of free throws at 4:59.
Holloway's three was followed by a Trasolini bucket in the paint. Atanga's deflection resulted in a steal at three by Foster, his fifth of the game. The Broncos led 71-61 at 1:33. Foster's two free throws made it 73-63 at 1:19.
GMU went on a 7-0 run in 16 seconds to pull within four, 77-73. Roquemore and Foster both hit a free throw each and Trasolini's dunk closed out the game. Broncos win 81-73.
Kevin Foster has made 424 this game career threes and he moved to No 5 all-time in NCAA history. He passed the Golden State Warriors' guard Stephen Curry (414, Davidson, 2006-09) to take over the No. 5 spot. He needs seven to move past former Tennessee All-American Chris Lofton (430, 2005-08). Foster has scored 19+ in 63 of his 131 career games. He has 15+ in 87 career games.
Kevin Foster started his 123rd career game after setting the school record vs. LMU on Feb. 28. Foster played in his 131st game and moved to No. 3 all-time.
Marc Trasolini and Raymond Cowels III played in their 135th career game and already own the school record. Cowels III also started his 66th straight game for the Broncos. Playing in his 126th career game, Niyi Harrison is No. 6 all-time.
Kevin Foster is No. 5 on the WCC single season with 87 steals, including two vs. GMU. Foster set the school record for single season steals at Wright State.
It is the second time in three years and just the third time in 17 years that Santa Clara has played in the post-season. It is the 17th post-season appearance in school history (22-17: 11-13 NCAA; 2-4 NIT, 5-0 CIT, 4-0 CBI).