SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Noah Hartsock scored 21 points and Brandon Davies added 20 to lead BYU to an 82-67 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday, the Broncos' 15th consecutive loss.
The Cougars (23-6, 11-3 West Coast) won their fifth consecutive game to remain in the running for one of the coveted top two seeds in the conference tournament - which would mean an automatic berth in the semifinals.
Brandon Clark and Niyi Harrison scored 19 points each to lead Santa Clara (8-19, 0-14), which extended its school-record losing streak.
BYU was able to pull away because they dominated Santa Clara in the paint. The Cougars took most of their shots from in close on their way to shooting a season-high 59 percent from the field.
|Field Goals||31-53 (58%)||23-56 (41%)|
|Three Pointers||3-12 (25%)||5-17 (29%)|
|Free Throws||17-22 (77%)||16-24 (67%)|
|Rebounds (Offensive)||28 (4)||28 (10)|
Next up for BYU is a critical game against Gonzaga, one of the other contenders for the top two seeds. The Cougars play at Gonzaga on Thursday.
Despite the apparent mismatch on Saturday, Santa Clara stayed relatively close for most of the game.
Santa Clara, which had played well in challenging Gonzaga on Thursday night, kept BYU within single digits the entire first half. A rally late in the first half brought Santa Clara within 34-31 at halftime.
The Cougars dominated in the paint. Hartsock hit five of his eight first-half shots on the way to 13 first-half points.
BYU finally got the lead to double digits, 50-40, on Davies' dunk with 13:12 to go in the game.
BYU led 67-59 with 7:01 to play, but then the Cougars went on a 13-2 run to put the game away, with Hartsock scoring five points in that stretch.
Matt Carlino, who scored a career-high 30 points Thursday at San Francisco - including the game-winner with 21 seconds to play - had just two points Saturday.
Santa Clara was without leading scorer Kevin Foster, who earlier in the week was suspended for the remainder of the season for disciplinary reasons. Foster had not played since Jan. 21.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)