By Benjamin Siepak
Coming off a 2-1 road trip that ended with wins over Washington State University and Idaho University, the Spartans look to carry their momentum into Saturday’s game as they attempt to beat Santa Clara University at home for the first time since 1996.
The two road wins marks the first time the Spartans (3-3) have won back-to-back road games since 2012. Sophomore guard, Jaycee Hillsman, says that defense has been key to the Spartans recent success.
“We were very solid on the defensive end and that led to a lot of breakaway points for us,” Hillsman said. “We also shot exceptionally well from the free-throw line as a team.”
In the two wins, Hillsman shot 6-for-6 from the floor and 15-of-17 from the free-throw line.
Last year at this time in the season, the Spartans had a 1-7 record. Sophomore forward Cody Schwartz says the team is much more experienced this season and it’s showing in several aspects of the game.
“Being more sound on defense, rebounding and ball movement on offense,” Schwartz said.
They will need to bring the same intensity on defense to keep up with the “run-and-gun” type offense of the Broncos (3-5) in Saturday night’s 7 p.m. game at SJSU’s Event Center.
“We need to take them off the three-point line and making them run in transition,” Hillsman said. “Out of there 20 field goals last game, 1 of them were threes. So it’s definitely an emphasis for us to take them off the three.”
The Broncos are coming off a 58-55 loss to UC Irvine that ended with a missed game-tying three-pointer shot at the buzzer by the team’s leading scorer Jared Brownridge.
Brownridge is averaging 20.6 points per game this season for a team that’s averaging 67.5 points a game. In their last meeting, the Spartans managed to hold him to only four points on the night.
For the Spartans, the bench has provided a boost offensively for the team over the past two games and is averaging 32 points per game on the season. Opponents’ benches are averaging 18.8 points per game.
Sophomore guard Ryan Welage has also added a lot for the Spartans’ offense as he has averaged 17.3 points and 8.0 rebounds a game on the three-game road trip. In 94 minutes played during the trip, Welage only turned the ball over once.
A win for the Spartans on Saturday would end a losing streak as the Spartans have lost its past six meetings with the Broncos and are 79-29 against them all-time.
After last season’s nail-biter that ended in a three point win for the Broncos, the Spartans seek their first win over them since 2009.
Schwartz, who finished with 15 points in their last meeting, says Head Coach Dave Wojcik is leading the team in the right direction.
“Coach just says to keep improving every day to come into practice and be better than you were yesterday,” Schwartz said. “Whether we win or lose, each game and each day just keep learning from it, improve individually and then we’ll improve as a team.”