With West Coast Conference play opening in December for the first time, Santa Clara lost 74-60 at No. 24 Gonzaga on Saturday night at the McCarthey Center. Brandon Clark led all scorers with 22 points, including 18 in the second half. David Stockton led the Zags with 21 points, including two key steals in the second half during a 14-3 Zags run.
Santa Clara is 7-7 and 0-1 in the WCC. Gonzaga is 11-2 and 1-0 in the WCC.
"You can't turn the ball over on the road," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating as the Broncos entered the game averaging nine turnovers this season. "We have been doing a good job all year long of taking care of the ball and we didn't do that tonight."
Santa Clara shot 47.1 percent from the field (24 of 51), including 33.3 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 18). The Broncos shot 50.0 percent from the free throw line (6 of 12). SCU collected 32 rebounds, nine assists, two steals, four blocks and 15 turnovers.
Santa Clara's guard trio of Clark, Jared Brownridge and Evan Roquemore scored 45 of Santa Clara's 60 points. But they also accounted for 12 of the Broncos 15 turnovers. "They are our three leading scorers, so we expect that," added Keating. "We need to understand how to trust each other and pass the ball. We sometimes speed things up on the road so we need to be more patient."
Individually the Broncos were led by Clark's 22 points and two assists. Brownridge added 12 points and Roquemore scored 11, but turned the ball over seven times with three assists. Yannick Atanga grabbed nine rebounds.
Gonzaga shot 47.9 percent from the field (23 of 48), including 38.5 percent from beyond the arc (5 of 13). The Zags shot 74.2 percent from the free throw line (23 of 31). GU collected 32 rebounds, 11 assists, nine steals, six blocks and nine turnovers.
Individually the Zags were led by Stockton's 21 points, four steals and three assists. Kevin Pangos added 17 and Przemek Karnowski scored 10 points with eight rebounds.
There were four lead changes and four ties in the first half, with the Broncos leading by as many as five at 8:20, but the Zags 9-0 run the final 3:39 of the first half gave them a 31-26 lead at the half. The Zags opened the game with back-to-back inside baskets. The Broncos answered with a 7-0 run on baskets by Roquemore, McArthur and Brown and a free throw by Clark.
The Zags followed with a 6-0 run. Brownridge pushed it in from 16 feet out to pull the Broncos within one, 10-9, at 12:58. Clark and Roquemore knocked down threes at the top of the key sandwiched between one by Pangos. Kratch connected from 10 feet out and the Broncos led 17-13 at 10:09.
After Karnowski scored inside, Brownridge scored a three on a Roquemore steal at 8:40 and then laid it in at 8:20 to put SCU up 22-17. Timeout Gonzaga.
The Zags laced together a 5-0 run to tie it up at 5:27, but Roquemore scored inside twice to make it a four-point Bronco lead again, 26-22, at 3:39. A 9-0 Zags run ended the first half to give Gonzaga a 31-26 lead.
Down 31-26 at the half, Santa Clara opened the second stanza on an 8-2 run to take a 34-33 lead at 17:26. Clark started it by scoring five straight for SCU, including a three to tie it up at 18:46. Stockton dumped it in at 17:52 and Brownridge answered from outside at 17:26. Clark's lay-up tied it up 38-38 at 16:13.
An 8-0 run by the Zags, including six straight by Zarnowski, made it 46-38 at 12:06.
After a Bronco timeout, SCU collected a 7-2 run with a Brownridge 12-footer starting it at 11:37. They were the Broncos first points in more than four and a half minutes. Richard knocked down a three from the corner to pull SCU within three at 10:55, 46-43.
The Zags 14-3 run proved to be the back-breaker for the Broncos from 9:15-4:21. Stockton made four straight free throws for the Zags, between an eight-footer by McArthur, to put GU up 53-49 at 8:32.
Stockton stole the ball from Roquemore inside the arc at 6:28 and Barham converted for a three at 6:17. Stockton's next steal was finished with a Pangos three at 4:47 and the Zags led 63-50.
Clark's jumper at 4:21 stopped the run. Roquemore was whistled for a technical at 1:12. Pangos, a 90 percent free throw shooter, made both, to put Gonzaga up 72-58. Both teams scored once more as Gonzaga won 74-60.
Game notes: The Broncos started Evan Roquemore, Jared Brownridge, Brandon Clark, John McArthur and Jerry Brown for the second straight game … Gonzaga's second-leading scorer Sam Dower was in street clothes on the bench for the Zags.