LAS VEGAS – In the past week, Santa Clara senior center John Bryant enjoyed a 20-20 performance on Senior Night, was named WCC player of the year and he followed that up with 24 points and a record-setting 27 rebounds in the Broncos’ win over San Diego at the WCC tournament Saturday.
The latter effort gives Bryant a chance to outdo all of his individual accolades.
“Beating Gonzaga would top everything,” he said.
No. 4-seeded Santa Clara set up a third meeting with No. 1 Gonzaga by eliminating the fifth-seeded Toreros 80-69 at the Orleans Arena. Bryant’s 27 boards easily broke the WCC tournament record of 20 by San Francisco’s Darryl Johnson in 1992. Bryant also took over the top spot for SCU career rebounds, surpassing Dennis Awtrey.
Bryant’s 27 rebounds are the most in a Division I game this season. The previous high was Chris Gadley’s 25 for Canisius versus Maine. Bryant had 17 rebounds in the first half as Santa Clara (16-16) opened up a 38-23 lead.
The 14th-ranked Bulldogs (24-5) clobbered the Broncos 95-53 in Spokane. GU won 81-73 10 days ago at Santa Clara. The Broncos were called for two technical fouls in the closing minutes after fans threw objects onto the court.
A year ago, Gonzaga escaped with a double-overtime win after Brody Angley inexplicably fouled the Zags’ Steven Gray about 65 feet from the Bulldogs’ basket with less than a second remaining in regulation. Gray’s two free throws forced overtime.
“I’ll let (Santa Clara players) understand we had every right to win that game (10 days ago),” Broncos coach Kerry Keating said.
“You can’t replicate those circumstances that affected the outcome of that game.
“We had 10 turnovers. You have 10 turnovers against Gonzaga and you’re controlling tempo, transition defense obviously being the most important thing, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”
No. 3 Portland crushed No. 6 Pepperdine 69-45 to advance to tonight’s semifinals against No. 2 Saint Mary’s. That game tips at approximately 8:30.
Top-seeded Gonzaga will meet No. 4 Loyola Marymount in the semifinals at noon today.
Renahy Young scored 23 points and Cassady Moore added 15 to help the Lions (18-11) past No. 8 Santa Clara 71-60.
Gonzaga beat the Lions 83-58 in Spokane and 81-78 in Los Angeles.
No. 2 Portland faces No. 6 San Diego, a 76-69 winner over No. 3 Pepperdine, in the other semifinal.