Santa Clara Broncos Can’t Hang On, Lose To Top-Seeded Gonzaga 77-75


March 8, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Gary Bell, Jr. (5) shoots against Santa Clara Broncos guard Evan Roquemore (24) and forward Jerry Brown (0) during the first half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Santa Clara Broncos led most of the way in Saturday night’s West Coast Conference quarterfinal against the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, but David Stockton scored on a reverse layup with 1.9 seconds to go and the Zags eked out a 77-75 win over the ninth-seeded Broncos at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Gonzaga (26-6) trailed 37-31 at halftime and didn’t take their first lead until there was just 3:24 remaining, when Sam Dower hit a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs up 66-65.

Dower, who was 15-for-15 from the foul line to tie a WCC tournament record, scored eight straight points for Gonzaga at one stretch as they extended the lead to 72-67.

After Brandon Clark knocked down a nifty lefty layup for the Broncos (14-19), Kyle Dranginis drove the lane and scored on the other end, but missed a free throw that would have put the Bulldogs up by six.

With 38 seconds left, Dranginis made one of two at the line and Gonzaga led 75-70.

It wasn’t over yet.

Evan Roquemore drove the lane and drew contact from Stockton, muscling in the layup and hitting the free throw to make it a 75-73 game. On the inbounds pass, Gonzaga’s Gary Bell Jr. traveled on the catch, giving the ball back to the Broncos with 32 seconds left.

Freshman Jared Brownridge, who scored 18 points in the first half, scored his only basket of the second half with 9.1 seconds to go, knocking down a 17-foot jumper to tie the game.

But Stockton took the ball down the floor, got a high screen from Dower and got to the rim, laying the ball up over Denzel Johnson for the lead.

Santa Clara’s last shot from near halfcourt was snuffed out by Dower and the Zags escaped to advance to Monday’s semifinals.

Dower had 23 points for the Bulldogs, Przemek Karnowski added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Bell finished with 13 points. Stockton had four assists.

Brownridge finished with 24 points for the Broncos. Clark added 14 points and three steals and Roquemore scored 12 points. Jerry Brown had seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

Santa Clara was 28-for-56 (50 percent) overall, 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from 3-point range and 12-for-15 (80 percent) at the free-throw line. Gonzaga was 24-for-45 (53.3 percent), 2-for-11 (18.2 percent) and 27-fof-33 (81.8 percent).

The Bulldogs won the glass 32-23, but committed 16 turnovers to just nine for the Broncos.

Here’s an updated look at the tournament:

Thursday—First Round
Game 1: (10) Loyola Marymount 67, (7) Portland 64
Game 2: (9) Santa Clara 81, (8) Pacific 64

Game 3: (3) USF 69, (6) San Diego 60
Game 4: (2) BYU 85, (10) Loyola Marymount 74
Game 5: (1) Gonzaga 77, (9) Santa Clara 75
Game 6: (5) Pepperdine vs. (4) Saint Mary’s, 30 minutes after Game 5 (ESPN2)

Game 7: (3) USF vs. (2) BYU, 6 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2)
Game 8: Game 6 winner vs. (1) Gonzaga, 30 minutes after Game 7 (ESPN or ESPN2)

Semifinal winners, 6 p.m. (ESPN)