GAME NOTES: Both the San Diego Toreros and the Santa Clara Broncos will attempt to avenge losses in their most recent games, as the teams square off at the Leavey Center on Thursday night in a West Coast Conference showdown.
San Diego is off to a solid 10-8 start to the season, but it has hit a rough patch since entering WCC action with losses in four of its last five contests. After earning their first league win over Loyola Marymount on Nov. 9, the Toreros fell back to their losing ways versus Pepperdine on Saturday with a 69-65 setback.
Santa Clara has been the more consistent squad in the conference, splitting its six games right down the middle, although its latest bout ended in a 80-68 defeat at the hands of Pacific on Saturday. The Broncos are 10-9 overall this season, including 6-3 at the Leavey Center.
The Broncos swept the season series with the Toreros in 2012-13 and now hold a 41-33 advantage all-time.
The Toreros led for the majority of the stretch run in their most recent game, including by one with 1:36 left following a pair of Christopher Anderson free throws, but those would be the last points they scored as they fell victim to a 5-0 Pepperdine run to close out the game. Despite shooting a lofty 54.8 percent from the field on the afternoon, they were just 14-of-25 from the charity stripe and committed a game-high 17 turnovers. Dennis Kramer paced the effort with 17 points, Duda Sanadze added 14 points and Chris Sarbaugh and Johnny Dee netted 12 and 11 points, respectively.
On the season, San Diego hasn't been a very potent offensive squad, as it puts up less than 69 points per tilt, but it has been enough to support its stout scoring defense (64.1 ppg). Dee is the top scoring option with 17.0 ppg, doing so on strong percentages from beyond the arc (.400) and the free-throw line (.918). Sanadze (12.7 ppg), Kramer (11.6 ppg) and Anderson (10.3 ppg, 6.1 apg) have been stellar as well.
The Broncos fell behind by four at the half to Pacific their last time out and could never recover in the second stanza as they suffered the 12-point road setback. It was a lackluster shooting performance from the field (.352), and they were hindered by losing the rebounding battle as well, 39-30. Brandon Clark did all he could to lift his team to victory, posting 20 points, four assists and two steals. Evan Roquemore was also impressive with 19 points, although he did so on just 5-of-15 from the floor.
Santa Clara is actually outshot by its opponents from the field this season, 45.7 percent to 43.1 percent, but it still boasts a +2.5 scoring margin thanks largely to its 7.8 3-pointers per contest and its advantage in the turnover battle (+2.1). Clark (17.4 ppg) has drained 38 3-pointers and a 40-percent clip, while Jared Brownridge (15.8 ppg) has been even more deadly from long range at 54-of-119 (.454). Roquemore rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11.8 ppg, but his poor field-goal shooting has become a disappointing theme for the squad (.353).
Neither team has been especially sharp this season, but Santa Clara has performed well on its home court and should be able to dismiss a San Diego squad that has struggled to put points on the board.
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