Evansville beats Santa Clara 69-57 in Wooden Legacy
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) Following an emotional overtime loss to No. 10 Arizona on Thursday evening, Santa Clara was poised at the DirecTV Wooden Legacy to register its first win of the season on Friday.
D.J. Balentine scored 23 points to propel Evansville to a 69-57 victory and send the Broncos to their seventh consecutive loss to start the season.
''We feel fortunate to get a win,'' Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. ''I give Santa Clara a lot of credit. They had an overtime game last night and they came out and battled all game.''
The Broncos will have to wait until at least until Sunday for their first win.
''It's like Groundhog's Day again,'' Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said. ''But we'll be back on Sunday and ready and fighting against Boston College. That's not an excuse but we're a young team and that's part of the process. We are going to get better.''
Mislav Brrzoja made all six of his shots for 16 points and Egidijus Mockevicius pulled down 21 rebounds as the Purple Aces (4-1) recovered from a loss on Thursday to Providence.
''He's (Mockevicius) been doing that for us for four years,'' Simmons said. ''He just has a knack for the ball and we wish he were more physical.''
Balentine made 9 of 18 shots and had eight assists.
Jared Brownridge led Santa Clara with 19 points and Nate Kratch had 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Aces built a 41-31 lead after Balentine's basket with 19:13 to play. The Broncos pulled to within 47-43 with 12 minutes to play but went scoreless for over four minutes and couldn't ignite a comeback.
Balentine's back-to-back baskets with 4:45 to play gave Evansville a 59-47 and the Aces went on to close it out.
''I think we showed we are more mature than last year,'' said Balentine. ''We didn't let the loss last night get to us and we were patient tonight and I think that a sign of maturity.''
The Aces jumped to an 8-0 lead to start the game. Santa Clara battled back and took a 16-15 lead on KJ Feagin's bucket with 8:08 remaining in the half.
Evansville mounted a 16-8 rally over the final five minutes for a 37-29 lead at the break, highlighted by Balentine's fall-away jumper just before the halftime buzzer.
''We expended a lot of energy to get back into the game early and I think maybe we got a little fatigued late in the first half,'' said Keating.
The Aces shot 56.5 percent (13-23) in the first half and were led by Brzoja's 12 points. Balentine added 11 for Evansville.
Brownridge, who dropped 44 points in an overtime loss to Arizona on Thursday, led the Broncos with 13 points in the first half. Santa Clara shot 33.3 percent (10-30) in the opening 20 minutes.
Santa Clara: Jared Brownridge's 44 points against Arizona in Friday's OT loss to Arizona were the most by a Broncos player on a neutral court and tied for second most ever. Bud Ogden set the Broncos school record for most points in game (56) at Pepperdine on March 3, 1967.
Evansville: The Purple Aces have four international players on their roster this season - Christian Benzon (Denmark), Mislav Brzoja (Crotia), Sergej Vucetic (Serbia) and Egidijus Mockevicius (Lithuania).
ASSISTS PER GAME
Evansville is currently 3rd in the country in assists per game with 22 (they registered 21 in Friday's win).
LEADING ACTIVE SCORER IN THE NATION
Evansville guard D.J. Balentine is the leading active scorer in the NCAA with 1,871 points (including Friday's game).
Friday was the first meeting ever between Santa Clara and Evansville.
Evansville will face UC Irvine on Sunday for fifth place in the Wooden Legacy.
Santa Clara plays Boston College on Sunday for seventh place.