SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Trailing by three with 8:14 left, Santa Clara had visions of pulling off an upset against No. 24 Gonzaga in the teams’ West Coast Conference opener Saturday night.
Then everything turned.
A stretch of six empty possessions, five of them ending in turnovers, fueled a 10-0 Bulldogs run that keyed their 74-60 victory over the Broncos.
“You can’t turn the ball over on the road, especially here,” Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said. “We’ve done a good job all year of taking care of the ball. I don’t think it was anything more than us not doing a good job of catching and passing the ball tonight.”
That and David Stockton had a career night for Gonzaga (11-2, 1-0), which has won 12 of the previous 13 conference titles..
With one starter out and two nicked up, Stockton scored a career-high 21 points – including 15 in the second half – and added four steals and three assists.
“I’m sure he prepares well, because he gambles a lot,” Keating said.
Brandon Clark scored 22 points as the Broncos (7-7, 0-1) lost for the seventh consecutive time in Spokane. Jared Brownridge scored 12 points and Evan Roquemore added 11. However, Roquemore, a senior guard, also had seven turnovers, part of 15 for the Broncos.
Stockton was stellar on both ends of the court and finished shooting 8 for 12.
“We had to dig in deep, get to about option E or F and we found a way to do that,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said.
Stockton, the 5-foot-11 son of former Gonzaga and NBA great John Stockton, is certainly that when it usually comes to scoring points. His season high coming in was 10 as he was averaging 6.2 points per game.
Gonzaga was without starting forward Sam Dower Jr., the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, who was out with a back injury caused by a fall in a recent loss against Kansas State. Kevin Pangos, who was averaging a team-high 18.3 points despite dealing with a toe injury, scored 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting, but missed a stretch of the second half while receiving treatment.
Also, guard Gary Bell Jr. was dealing with a hand injury suffered in the game’s first minutes.
Holding a 53-50 lead with 8:14 left, the Bulldogs forced Santa Clara turnovers on five of the next six possessions. Included in those were two steals by Stockton and another by Drew Barham, making his first start of the season in Dower’s place.
Pangos fought through the toe injury, which Few says flares up whenever it gets hit. The junior guard had five points in the 10-0 run, including a transition 3-pointer to cap it.
Pangos was actually off the court when the Zags went on an 8-0 run, building a 46-38 lead with a little more than 12 minutes left.
Santa Clara roared back after a timeout, pulling within two numerous times – the last at 51-49 on John McArthur’s jumper with 9 minutes remaining.
But with Pangos back on the court, the Bulldogs used a 12-1 run over the next 4:10 to take a 13-point lead. The run, fueled by three Gonzaga steals and five Santa Clara turnovers, was capped by a transition 21-footer from Pangos – one of his three 3-pointers.
Clark put an end to the run with a 10-foot jumper at the 4:18 mark but the damage had been done.
The Broncos led 26-22 with 4 minutes to go in the first half, but Gonzaga finished the period on a 9-0 run with Pangos scoring five. Santa Clara’s Clark put an end to the run with five consecutive points following intermission.
Center Przemek Karnowski led Gonzaga with nine rebounds, while Yannick Atanga led Santa Clara with nine boards off the bench.
The last six Santa Clara losses in Spokane came by an average of 31.2 points, with the Broncos holding the margin under 10 points just one time.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)