Shorthanded Cougs fall to Broncos in non-conference finale
SPOKANE, Wash. — Santa Clara opened the season with four consecutive losses, but coach Herb Sendek said that was not the same team that took the floor against Washington State on Saturday.
Tahj Eaddy and Josip Vrankic each scored 16 points as Santa Clara beat Washington State 79-71 in the non-conference finale for both teams at the Spokane Arena.
Guglielmo Caruso added 14 points for Santa Clara (8-6), which has won seven of its past eight games.
”We played a difficult schedule in the non-conference,” Sendek said. ”Our team today does not resemble the team that started the season. We are better.”
The Broncos held Washington State to 44 percent shooting while sinking 58 percent of their own shots.
”Our guys did a good job on the defensive end of the floor,” Sendek said. ”Our offensive execution was very good.”
Washington State played without leading scorer Robert Franks , out with a hip injury.
Coach Ernie Kent said the Cougars’ poor shooting percentage was ”a byproduct of not having Franks on the floor.”
”They did a good job (guarding) our shooters, and we gave them so many easy baskets. The play of Marvin Cannon was tremendous,” Kent said of the sophomore forward who sank six of his seven shots.
The first half was close. Washington State went on an 8-0 run to take a 25-22 lead, but Santa Clara went on an 11-5 run and led 40-36 at halftime, behind 12 points by Caruso.
Eaddy hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Broncos pushed their lead to 52-40 early in the second.
Washington State replied with a 16-7 run to cut Santa Clara’s lead to three points, but the Cougars could not get over the hump as their shooting went cold.
The Broncos held off the Cougars for the win.
”Our losses have been close games,” Kent said. ”I’m proud of the way they played.”
Santa Clara: The Broncos lost five of their first six games, three to Power Five teams, but have recovered nicely in their third season under Sendek … Sendek used to coach at Pac-12 member Arizona State … Injuries have reduced the Broncos to eight players
Washington State: The Cougars have lost three in a row and have had a disappointing non-conference season that included losses to Seattle, Montana State and San Diego … Playing without leading scorer Robert Franks , who is averaging 22 points per game, was a major blow to the Cougars.
SPREAD THE WEALTH
Five players scored in double figures for the Broncos, including Keshawn Justice with 12 and Trey Wertz with 10.
Washington State shot 33 percent from 3-point range. Santa Clara was just 8 of 17 from the free throw line.
Santa Clara opens West Coast Conference play by hosting San Diego on Thursday.
Washington State begins Pac-12 play at archrival Washington next Saturday. ”Rival game, Pac-12 play, packed house,” Kent said.
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