LAS VEGAS - Santa Clara men's basketball, the No. 4 seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament, will be making its first appearance in the semifinals in six years on Monday when it faces top-seeded and No. 4/4-ranked Gonzaga (30-1). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from Orleans Arena.
Despite playing without second-leading scorer KJ Feagin in Saturday's quarterfinals, the Broncos (17-15) defeated fifth-seeded San Francisco, 76-69, with seniors Jared Brownridge (28 points) and Nate Kratch (16 points) leading the way. Brownridge scored 17 points in the second half and hit all 11 free throws in the game.
Santa Clara's last appearance in the WCC semifinals occurred in 2011 when the fourth-seeded Broncos fell to No. 1 seed Saint Mary's.
The Broncos have four players averaging in double figures. Brownridge, a three-time first-team All-WCC choice, leads Santa Clara and ranks third in the league in scoring (17.7 ppg). He is first in the WCC and 17th nationally averaging 3.2 3-point field goals per game. Feagin, a 2016-17 second-team All-WCC pick, is second on the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg and first in 3-point shooting (49.0 percent), though he has only played in 19 contests after missing the first 12 due to injury and the last one with a concussion. Feagin averaged 15.2 points (sixth in the WCC) and 4.4 assists per game (fifth) in league games. Only Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss (17.9/4.7) averaging at least 14 points and producing 4.0 or more assists in WCC games. Matt Hauser is averaging 10.2 points and 5.3 assists per game, third overall in the WCC. Hauser's assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.2-to-1 is second in the league and No. 8 in the country. His four double-doubles are the most by a WCC guard this season. Nate Kratch is averaging 10.9 ppg and a team-high 6.5 rebounds pg (No. 7 in the WCC). His 42.1 3-point FG percentage ranks fifth in the WCC. He is averaging 16.0 points while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor during the last six games.
|Audio||KLIV AM-1590 (San Jose, Calif.)
|Game Notes||Santa Clara | Gonzaga|
• Santa Clara, which has had seven players miss time due to injury, has already eclipsed its win total (11) from last season and posted the best overall turnaround in the West Coast Conference. The Broncos finished above .500 in league play for just the third time in the last 10 years, including first since 2012-13. The Broncos have posted a 5.5 game improvement so far this season compared to 2015-16 when they were 11-20. Gonzaga is second at 4.5 games (28-8 in 2015-16). Santa Clara also had the best turnaround in league play with a three-game improvement (7-11 in 2015-16). Gonzaga, USF, LMU and San Diego each had a two-game increase in win total.
• Herb Sendek is in his first season as Santa Clara head coach after three successful stops leading Division I programs. Sendek, one of the three youngest coaches to reach 400 career victories, is in his 23rd season as a head coach. He compiled a 413-295 (.583) record, including 39 victories against top 25 teams, at Arizona State, North Carolina State and Miami (Ohio). Sendek was a coach of the year in the Pac-10, Atlantic Coast Conference and Mid-American Conference.
• Jared Brownridge (2,281) ranks second on the school's all-time scoring list and fourth in WCC history. Brownridge (1,300) is also the all-time scoring leader in WCC games. In addition, the senior is third among active leading scorers in NCAA Division I.
Three Players Earn All-WCC Honors...
Senior Jared Brownridge joined rare company with his third-straight appearance on the All-WCC First Team, while sophomore KJ Feagin earned a spot on the second team despite missing 12 games due to injury. He was a member of the 2015-16 WCC All-FreshmanTeam. Senior Nate Kratch secured honorable mention recognition. Brownridge is just the fourth player in school history to earn three straight first-team All-WCC honors, joining:
• Ken Sears (1952-53, 1953-54, 1954-55)
• Dennis Awtrey (1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70)
• Harold Keeling (1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85)
Sharing the Basketball...
Santa Clara has two of the top assist producers in the WCC with Matt Hauser ranking third at 5.3 per game and KJ Feagin is averaging 4.4 per contest, though he's only played 19 games and out of official rankings. The Broncos average 14.3 assists pg (No. 5 in the WCC), but they are among the best in the league based on assists per made field goals. The Broncos are second overall in the WCC in assist percentage (60.9) and were first in league games (64.3).
Hanging On To The Basketball...
Santa Clara has the No. 1 turnover margin in the WCC at plus-2.1 per game and the third-best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4-to-1). The Broncos average just 10.5 turnovers per game (tied for No. 14 in the country) and have the No. 3 steal percentage (6.1) in the nation, according to KenPom.com. Those factors have helped offset an offense scoring 66.8 points per game (No. 9 in the league). However, the Broncos are allowing just 65.0 ppg, which ranks third in the conference. Santa Clara is 13-2 this season when scoring 65 or more points.
Turning It Up at Tourney Time...
Jared Brownridge has saved some of his best performances for the WCC Tournament. In six career outings, Brownridge has scored less than 20 only once (19 in an 85-54 win vs. LMU on March 6, 2015) and has averaged 25.0 points on 46.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 48.1 percent from beyond the 3-point line. He has also hit 91.2 percent from the free-throw line, including an 11-for-11 performance in Saturday's win over San Francisco. Brownridge was just two points off the school's WCC Tournament single-game scoring mark vs. the Dons. He tallied 30 points in last year's quarterfinal loss to BYU (March 5). Kyle Bailey posted the same total against San Francisco on March 6, 2004.
Broncos in the WCC Tourney...
Santa Clara has a 28-28 all-time record in the West Coast Conference tournament, which began with the 1986-87 season. The Broncos have won two tournament titles, at the conclusion of the 1986-87 and 1992-93 seasons. The Broncos are 1-8 all-time against Gonzaga, including seven straight losses, in the tournament. The Bulldogs were the top seed in those last seven meetings.
Gonzaga, under the direction of 18th-year head coach Mark Few, is 30-1 on the year and the only Division I team to reach that win total. The Bulldogs went 17-1 in West Coast Conference action to win the regular season title. Junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, the WCC Player of the Year, is their leading scorer at 16.4 points per game and top assist producer at 4.7 pg. However, the Bulldogs have a very balanced attack with five additional players averaging 8.0 points per game or more. Gonzaga shoots 51.7 percent from the field, the second-best mark in the nation, and only allows its opponents to shoot 36.6 percent (No. 2 in the country). The Bulldogs rank No. 1 nationally in scoring margin (+24.1).
The Gonzaga Series...
The series began in 1946 and Gonzaga leads, 58-30. The Bulldogs have won the last 14 meetings. Santa Clara's last win occurred on Jan. 20, 2011, when the Broncos downed the Bulldogs, 85-71, in Leavey Center.
• Guard KJ Feagin has scored in double figures in 14 of his last 17 games. In his last seven games, he's averaged 16.1 points on 54.9 percent shooting from the floor, including 64.9 percent on 3-pointers (24 of 37) ... guard Jared Brownridge and forward Nate Kratch are the only players to appear in all 32 games, starting each one. Brownridge is averaging 37.0 (No. 7 in the nation) and Kratch 33.9 minutes per game. Guard Matt Hauser is averaging 35.5 game (No. 3 in the WCC), but played just two minutes vs. Portland (Jan. 5) after leaving due to a concussion. Brownridge played 30 minutes against Northern Colorado (Nov. 19) due to foul trouble and a season-low 28 at BYU (Dec. 29), but has played at least 33 minutes in 28 of the other 29 contests. Hauser has played less than 34 minutes only six times ... Hauser has posted more than two turnovers just five times season and he dished out 10 or more assists in five games. He currently ranks seventh (159) on Santa Clara's all-time single season assist list ... Brownridge had his 32-game double-figure scoring streak snapped when he was held to seven points in a 75-50 win over UC Riverside (Dec. 13). Brownridge has scored in double figures in 48 of the last 54 games, including 20 or more points in 27 ... Hauser has scored in double figures 18 times this season, including a career-high 18 vs. UC Riverside (Dec. 13). He scored in double figures four times in 2015-16 ... after reaching double figures in three of the first nine games, Kratch has scored at least 10 points in 14 of the last 23 ... Kratch has four double-doubles on the season (at Valparaiso, Dec. 22; vs. BYU, Jan. 26; at Pacific, Feb. 11; vs. San Diego, Feb. 18) and missed by one carom vs. BYU (Dec. 29), USF (Dec. 31) and LMU (Jan. 7) ... after not seeing action in the first seven games, junior center Emmanuel Ndumanya has played in the last 25. He assumed the starting center role in the Cal State East Bay game (Dec. 10) and has been in the opening lineup the last 23 contests ... Ndumanya has posted double-digit rebounding efforts in the four of the last six. He is averaging 9.3 rebounds in the last six games ... junior forward Jarvis Pugh has scored in double figures in six of his 18 appearances this season after reaching 10 points just twice in his previous 42 career games. But until playing vs. Saint Mary's (Feb. 25), Pugh had missed the last 14 games with a foot injury suffered vs. Portland (Jan. 5).
• Santa Clara has searched for consistency shooting from the floor. The Broncos, who rank seventh in the WCC in FG percentage (43.7), have connected on 50 percent or more in five games and less than 40 percent 10 times. They are 15-4 this season when connecting on at least 43 percent from the field and 13-3 when hitting 40 percent or higher from behind the 3-point line. Conversely, Santa Clara is just 7-12 when the opposition shoots 45-plus percent from the field ... Santa Clara averages a WCC-high 9.7 made 3-pointers per game. The Broncos are 10-3 on the year when nailing 10 or more from beyond the 3-point line ... Santa Clara is 7-1 this season when out-rebounding its opponents, but the Broncos have the lowest rebounding margin in the WCC (-4.0 pg).
Radio/Live Stream: Anthony Passarelli (play-by-play) and John Stege (analyst) will call the action vs. Gonzaga on KLIV AM-1590 in San Jose, California. All Broncos home games and West Coast Conference contests (not on an ESPN platform or televised by BYUtv) are streamed through TheW.tv (local blackout restrictions apply for games broadcast over the air). KLIV AM-1590 served as the broadcast outlet for 25 Santa Clara regular-season games this season. Others were heard on KSCU FM-103.3 and KDOW AM-1220.
Tickets: Santa Clara's allotment is sold out. Remaining tickets can be purchased though Orleans Arena.
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