Men’s basketball wins a postseason championship and finishes nationally ranked.
The last time that the SCU men’s basketball team went to the postseason, grizzled NBA vet Steve Nash ’96 was but a fresh-faced senior leading the Broncos into the NCAA tournament. So it was big news when the team got the nod for the CollegeInsider.com Tournament after notching a 19-win regular season that included the first home win over Gonzaga in a decade.
The Broncos began the tournament with solid victories against Northern Arizona University and Air Force Academy. But it wasn’t until the third round against University of San Francisco that most fans sensed something special brewing.
During the regular season, USF swept SCU, and with home-court advantage the Dons looked set to extend the streak. But Santa Clara charged into the city behind superfreshman Evan Roquemoreand scoring-sensation Kevin Foster ’12 to snatch away a 95–91 victory. The Dons had to settle for the honor of keeping it closer than any other team in the tournament.
Santa Clara held aloft the CIT championship trophy, the first postseason tournament win other than the WCC Tournament.
|Drive: Kevin Foster makes his move. Photo courtesy of Iona College SID.|
After defeating USF, the Broncos traveled to Dallas, knocking out Southern Methodist University by 17 points, and then to New York to take on Iona College in the final. For the third game running, the Broncos fought against a team backed by a home crowd, this time egged on by national television cameras. But SCU knocked down Iona 76–67 with five Broncos scoring in double digits, led by Foster, the tournament MVP.
More important, Santa Clara held aloft the CIT championship trophy, the first postseason tournament win other than the WCC Tournament. The team’s 24 total wins were second most in school history. And SCU finished No. 22 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major national poll, the first time SCU has finished nationally ranked in the 12 seasons of the poll.
The victory bodes well for next year, when Coach Kerry Keating returns a team steeped in postseason pressure, including the eagle-eyed Foster, who downed 140 3-pointers this year, ninth most in NCAA single-season history. Foster also eclipsed school records for minutes played and points scored in a season and led the WCC in scoring. The big win “showed that our program has matured and is ready to take a step into the future—for hopefully more postseason success,” Keating said.
Like the team, Foster aspires to bigger things. During the Dallas trip, they crossed paths with Kurt Rambis ’80, head coach of the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves and SCU’s career scoring leader. Keating told Rambis that Foster had his eyes on the coach’s record.
“I hope you get it,” Rambis replied. Sam Scott ’96