SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Whether a win on Saturday night against BYU would have brought more bliss for Santa Clara — the one West Coast Conference team without a single league win — or disappointment for WCC third- ranked BYU, the reality is that such a scenario is now nothing more than a hypothetical.
The Cougars' ability to increase the pace, lower turnovers and maintain a significant point gap between themselves and the Broncos in the second half resulted in the Cougs’ ability to snatch up an 82-67 win over the, now 0-14, Santa Clara Broncos.
Always a competitor never a winner, the Broncos’ 8-2 run — a response to BYU’s 14-4 run and Anson Winder’s triple point play — put them only three points behind the Cougs (34-21) at the end of first half.
Santa Clara’s head coach Kerry Keating said his players' real intimidation at the beginning isn’t that out of the ordinary.
“That’s been a little bit of our story recently,” Keating said. “We’ve been playing well for first halves and even for half of the second half. (But) anytime you play against a really good team like that, they maximize on your mistakes and they certainly did that here. Made a few mistakes in transition D and they were able to take advantage of that.”
BYU’s ultimate ability to gain a grasp on the game came from the gloves provided by head coach Dave Rose during halftime. BYU forward Charles Abouo spoke about the realization that the Cougs had to come to grips with in the halftime locker room.
“You look at their wins and losses and it doesn’t really say much about the type of team you’re playing against,” Abouo said. “They are a really good team; they’re talented. We knew (at halftime) if we wanted a chance at winning this game that we were going to have to get more stops in the second half.”
Having exactly 50 percent of BYU’s game score coming from the combined points of Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies, the Cougs were able to extend their lead to double digits for the first time with 13:15 in the game — with a Davies dunk-off and inbounds pass.
While Santa Clara was able to narrow the score difference back to eight points, BYU’s bigs continued stacking points too high for Santa Clara’s defense to knock back down. At 10:22 ,BYU made its final pull away, leaving the Broncos in a confused stampede.
We pride ourselves on winning in these blue jerseys. We love playing on the road because of the challenge and the importance of the road win. We don't take for granted.
"I am really happy with our guys," Rose said. "I think winning on the road is what kind of separates you from a lot of teams. This team has figured out how to do it."
BYU’s win against Santa Clara puts them at seven straight road wins. A streak that is needed for only one more game. Gearing up for its last, and extremely weighty, away game this season against Gonzaga on Thursday, BYU is seeking to stand for a name whose grounds they are miles away from.
“We pride ourselves on winning in these blue jerseys,” Abouo said. “We love playing on the road because of the challenge and the importance of the road win. We don’t take for granted.”
Karissa Urry is a Brigham Young University student majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Management. Follow her on Twitter @KarissaEUrry.