SANTA CLARA -- With all-time assist leader Evan Roquemore out of the lineup for academic reasons, Santa Clara had several younger players out of position Saturday night in its 91-81 loss to Brigham Young at the Leavey Center.
Roquemore's absence was one of many challenges the Broncos proved unable to overcome.
"Evan's a great player for us," senior forward Jerry Brown said. "When Evan's out there, we've got a better chance to win. We just had to work with what we had."
Santa Clara announced just before tipoff that Roquemore and fellow senior John McArthur would not play against BYU "for failure to uphold academic responsibilities." Roquemore, the starting point guard and third-leading scorer this season with 11.6 points per game, was not even permitted to attend the game due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.
SCU coach Kerry Keating said Roquemore's absence wasn't an excuse for his team's loss.
"The first team to 80 points wins with (BYU)," Keating said. "When they haven't gotten to 80 points, they've lost, and tonight they got to 80 way too fast by scoring 47 in the first half."
Freshman guard Jared Brownridge scored a career-high 30 points for Santa Clara (10-11, 3-5 West Coast Conference) before a crowd of 2,560 that seemed equal parts SCU and BYU. Brownridge's four 3-pointers in the contest moved him past Roquemore into the No. 2 spot on SCU's list of most 3-pointers by a freshman.
Junior guard Brandon Clark added 20 points for SCU, the seventh time he's scored at least 20 in eight WCC games. He also dished out seven assists.
Brigham Young (13-7, 5-2), meanwhile, had six players finish in double figures. Junior guard Tyler Haws, the WCC's leading scorer, was one of them despite the fact that he only played a minute of the first half due to picking up two early fouls.
"It's hard enough with Haws in the game," Keating said. "For them to get that kind of support from their bench is a credit to them. It's what makes them such a dangerous team."
Sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth led the Cougars with 18 points. Haws and Anson Winder, who replaced him in the first half, finished with 16 apiece.
The Broncos had tremendous difficulty penetrating inside against BYU's stifling 2-3 zone defense in the first half, especially after the Cougars seized a 5-4 lead on a 3-pointer by junior guard Skyler Halford with 17:03 remaining in the first half. Brigham Young led from that point on.
Forced to fire away from the perimeter, SCU missed 11 of its first 12 3-pointers and managed just two field goals in the final 7:30 of the first half, both by Brownridge. As a result, the Cougars were able to build a 24-point lead that the Broncos managed to trim to 17 at halftime.
The Broncos fell behind by 21 early in the second half but rallied to cut the Cougars' lead to 10. A 3-pointer by junior guard Denzel Johnson with 14:15 to play touched off a 12-0 run that narrowed the score to 58-48.
Brigham Young responded with an 18-4 run of its own, however, and the Broncos never recovered, though they did pull back within 10 on a long 3-pointer by Brownridge with less than a minute to play.
"We just needed to figure it out," Brown said. "In the second half we did a better job of pushing the tempo and getting to our spots."