Wagner (5-4) at Santa Clara (10-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 11:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leavey Center (4,500) -- Santa Clara, California. Television: None. Home Record: Wagner 2-0, Santa Clara 7-2. Away Record: Wagner 2-4, Santa Clara 3-0. Neutral Record: Wagner 1-0, Santa Clara 0-0. Conference Record: Wagner 0-0, Santa Clara 0-0. Series Record: Wagner leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Wagner Seahawks and the Santa Clara Broncos will square off in the championship game of the Cable Car Classic for the second consecutive year at the Leavey Center.
Last season these teams met in the championship of this event. Wagner escaped with a 64-62 victory after Kenneth Ortiz put in a layup in the closing seconds.
Wagner earned the right to defend its Cable Car Classic Championship by posting a 63-53 win over Larry Brown's SMU Mustangs in the tournament opener. Coach Bashir Mason's team has now won three games in a row to improve its record to 5-4. Wagner has the lowest scoring offense in the Northeast Conference with only 58.8 points per game, but it also is allowing a league- low 59.7 ppg to its opposition.
Kerry Keating's Broncos continued their great start with an opening round 70-58 victory over the Alcorn State Braves. Santa Clara has now won five games in a row to improve its record to 10-2. The Broncos are a run and gun style team this season with an 79.7 point per game average on 45.4 percent shooting from the floor. Santa Clara is limiting its opponents to 65.5 ppg with an average of 18.3 turnovers.
Jonathon Williams led the very balanced Seahawks' attack with 13 points and seven rebounds in the tourney opener. All 10 Wagner players that saw the floor managed to score with Eric Fanning tallying 11 points. The team shot 48.6 percent from the field and converted 23-of-31 attempts at the charity stripe. Defensively, the Seahawks did a tremendous job holding SMU to 34 percent shooting from the floor. Williams is the only player scoring in double-figures for Wagner with 17.0 points to go along with 7.8 boards per game. Ortiz is producing just under 10 per game and Marcus Burton is the team's best three- point threat with 11 made triples in nine games.
The Broncos struggled last season and won just eight games the entire year while forward Marc Trasolini missed the campaign with a torn ACL. The 6-9, 240-pound forward has returned to action in full force as he registered a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds versus Alcorn State. Kevin Foster produced 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting and Evan Roquemore (3-of-12 FG) also had trouble connecting on his shots. Santa Clara made up for it on the defensive end by holding the Braves to 30.4 percent field goal shooting and forcing them into 22 turnovers. Although he struggled on Friday, Foster is having a tremendous senior campaign with 19.5 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.3 steals per game. Trasolini is also a consistent contributor with 15.8 points and 8.1 boards per outing.
Although few players on Wagner stand out besides Williams, its unselfish team style of play can be very tough to defend and gameplan against. The Seahawks will find it much more difficult to defeat the Broncos again this season with Trasolini back in action.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Santa Clara 72, Wagner 66
12/22 10:31:20 ET