SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Less than five minutes into the first half against California, Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek had already gone five players deep into his bench. It was more by design than necessity.
That’s the way the Broncos have been all season, and it’s paying off for a team that Sendek says is his deepest in his fourth season at Santa Clara.
“We don’t necessarily have a team where somebody has to carry us,” said Sendek, after four Broncos scored in double figures in a 71-52 win over the Golden Bears on Saturday. “We’re at our best when we’re a team. It’s a team sport, and to the measure that we can play together and as a team, it’s to our benefit.”
Guglielmo Caruso had 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, and Santa Clara built an early double-digit lead and coasted past California for its 11 consecutive home win.
DJ Mitchell added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jalen Williams scored 12 points to lead the Broncos to their first win over the Golden Bears in 26 years.
“It matters a lot,” Caruso said. “Last year we faced Cal and we lost really badly. We were really young. That experience from last year translated into this year and helped us to get this W.”
Santa Clara (9-2) bounced back from a 31-point loss at Nevada and dominated its Bay Area rival despite 20 turnovers.
Matt Bradley scored 14 points on 4-of-15 shooting for California. The Bears (5-4) after opening the season with four consecutive wins.
“We created a lot of open shots to start the game and they didn’t go in,” California coach Mark Fox said. “I felt like the frustration of the ball not going in the basket contributed maybe to our play on the other end. I don’t think our defense was anywhere good enough the entire night.”
The Broncos never trailed after Caruso’s two free throws made it 19-18 midway through the first half and led by 19 behind the 1-2 punch of Caruso and Josip Vrankic.
Caruso made his first five shots, two coming off putbacks. Three of Caruso’s rebounds came on the offensive glass.
Vrankic hit two 3s, added a steal and drove nearly the length of the court for a layup, then made a wraparound pass in the paint to Jaden Bediako as part of a 15-2 run that helped the Broncos pull away in the first half.
Williams and Mitchell took over in the second half, pairing up for 18 of Santa Clara’s 31 points after the break.
“It’s nice to know that you have teammates that can help you when maybe it’s not going your way,” Caruso said. “It started really good for me and then I didn’t really find any more opportunities. But then Josip went and did his part of the job then DJ then Jalen. Everyone (did) something to help us get this win.”
California: As improved as the Bears are from a year ago they still make a rash of silly mistakes and unforced errors that put them in bad spots. For the second consecutive game a Cal player lost his cool. This time it was Bradley, who was whistled for a technical foul in the second half. Fox tried shaking up his lineup, starting Paris Austin at point guard in place of Joel Brown and going with Andre Kelly over Lars Thiemann at center. It didn’t seem to matter much, as neither new starter made much of an impact.
Santa Clara: Two of the Broncos' nine wins have come against Pac-12 teams. They lost a third at Stanford but it’s still a notable achievement for Sendek’s squad. Santa Clara looks and plays deeper than its been in quite some time, which should help out once the Broncos get into WCC play.
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
This was the third time this season that Santa Clara has had 20 or more turnovers. The Broncos have won all three, so what does that say to Sendek? “That we’re turning it over too much.” he said.
"Really nothing more than that, and we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get that addressed.”
California: The Bears return home and will play Fresno State on Wednesday.
Santa Clara: The Broncos get an extended break between games and play Sacramento State on Dec. 14 at the Leavey Center.