Santa Clara faces Cal looking for second Pac-12 win

NCAA Men's Basketball

Santa Clara seeks to complete a sweep of the San Francisco Bay Area’s two Pacific-12 Conference schools for the first time in 52 years when the Broncos visit California for a nonconference basketball game Saturday night in Berkeley, Calif.

The Broncos (7-3) exploded from the blocks this season, winning their first five games, including an 88-72 thumping of visiting Stanford at home on Nov. 12.

That win was just their 16th in 40 all-time matchups with Stanford in a rivalry dating back to 1950.

Santa Clara has faced Cal less often (31 times since 1949) and prevailed fewer times (11), but did run off with a 71-52 home win when the clubs last met in December 2019.

The last time Santa Clara beat both Cal and Stanford in the same season occurred in December 1969, when the Broncos, ranked 12th in the nation at the time, won 72-60 at Stanford before recording a 58-52 home victory over the Golden Bears as the No. 15 team eight days later.

In order to complete the sweep, the Broncos are going to have to win a true road game for the first time this season. They have gone 6-2 at home, losing to U.C. Irvine and Louisiana Tech, and 1-1 when facing TCU (win) and Fresno State (loss) at a neutral site.

The Broncos are coming off an 88-77 home win over Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday.

“Our guys have done a great job of keeping a real good attitude, continuing to get better,” Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said of the bounce-back effort Tuesday after a 78-75 loss to Louisiana Tech. “We have skilled players; we have unselfish players. It’s a team that is well-balanced.”

Freshman Carlos Stewart added to that balance in the win over Mount St. Mary’s, going for 12 points after totaling just 31 in his first nine collegiate games.

Cal (5-5) also won at home earlier in the week, drubbing Idaho State 72-46 on Wednesday. The win was the Golden Bears’ fifth at home this season in six outings.

Cal coach Mark Fox was proud of a defensive effort that limited the visitors to 28.0 percent shooting.

“That has to be part of our fabric as a team,” Fox said of a defensive mentality in the wake of having had leading scorer Matt Bradley transfer after last season. “Offensively, it’s going to take a while to develop some chemistry.”

Cal had four players score in double figures in the win, including Lars Thiemann, a junior who contributed a career-high 12 off the bench.

–Field Level Media

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