SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — PJ Pipes scored 21 points and Jalen Williams had 18 points and 10 assists as Santa Clara beat No. 22 Saint Mary’s 77-72 on Tuesday night.
Pipes shot 8 of 13 from the field, including 5 for 8 from 3-point range.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I kind of, throughout the season, went through a little shooting slump, but my teammates like Jalen and Coach told me to keep shooting them. In games like that, they just fall, so I kept shooting them.”
Josip Vrankic added 16 points to move into eighth place on Santa Clara’s career scoring list with 1,680. He also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Tommy Kuhse led Saint Mary’s with 16 points and six assists off the bench, but the Gaels had their seven-game winning streak snapped. Matthias Tass added 12 points and seven rebounds.
“We didn’t defend well enough to win the game,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “They’re a good team though. I knew that coming in. They’ve been talking all year about the four teams in the league. The whole time I’ve been saying pay attention to Santa Clara.”
After a back-and-forth first half that featured seven lead changes and four ties, Santa Clara (17-8, 7-3 West Coast Conference) went on an 11-2 run early in the second to open a 46-38 lead.
The Broncos built the advantage to 12 before Saint Mary’s (19-5, 7-2) scored 10 straight points to cut the margin to 60-58 with 6:46 remaining.
Santa Clara pushed the lead back to seven, but Saint Mary’s charged back with five unanswered points to get within 73-70 with 38 seconds left.
The Broncos made their free throws down the stretch to seal it, and students stormed the court in a raucous celebration at Leavey Center.
“We were able to go on a good run early in the second half but then they collapsed the lead almost instantaneously it seemed,” Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. “You know the game is going to have its ebbs and flows. The last several times we’ve played each other, it’s come down to the last possession or two.”
Added Pipes: “It was amazing. You love seeing that atmosphere. Obviously, them being a rival, it just adds another thing on the table.”
Santa Clara shot 55% from the field and held Saint Mary’s to 43%. The Broncos also outscored the Gaels in the paint 46-36.
“Just being able to finish through contact I thought really put points on the board for us,” Williams said. “And obviously we shot well.”
Santa Clara held a slight edge on the boards, outrebounding Saint Mary’s 32-30. Both teams committed 11 turnovers.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels’ usually stout defense couldn’t contain the hot-shooting Broncos, allowing a season-high 77 points. Saint Mary’s entered allowing just 58.4 points per game, sixth-best in the country. It was the Gaels’ first loss of the season when scoring at least 60 points (19-1).
Santa Clara: The Broncos earned a season split against their rivals from Moraga, with each team winning on its home court. Santa Clara extended its winning streak to four and earned an impressive victory against a ranked opponent to bolster its NCAA Tournament chances.
Saint Mary’s: Hosts San Diego on Thursday night, looking for its 15th straight win over the Toreros.
Santa Clara: Hosts San Francisco on Saturday afternoon.
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