Tennessee use big second half run to defeat Santa Clara


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Josh Richardson scored a team leading 18 points for Tennessee in the Volunteers win over Santa Clara.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tennessee used a huge second half run as the Volunteers defeated the Santa Clara Broncos 64-57 in the opening game of the Orlando Classic on Thursday at the HP Field House.

The Volunteers went into halftime trailing the Broncos 30-27, while being outshot 53.8 percent to 39.3 during the opening half. Santa Clara started the game going 4-4 from behind the three-point arc, but finished the game 6-15 from three-point range following the hot start.

“It usually balances out,” said Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall about Santa Clara’s hot start from three-point range. “And again our style of play late in the game their shots are a little bit short, their legs aren’t there to make those shots from 22-feet.”

Turnovers kept Tennessee in the game during the first half, as Santa Clara had nine turnovers during the opening 20 minutes and the Volunteers turned that into seven points. Tennessee also dominated the paint, outscoring Santa Clara 16-2 down low.

The Volunteers opened up the second half on a 14-0 run, as they took a 41-30 lead with 11:54 left to play in regulation. Santa Clara didn’t score their first point of the second half until there was 10:23 remaining in the second half.

“We were playing well during that stretch,” said Tyndall. “It was important to start the second half the right way because we didn’t have a great first half, so that first four minutes of the second half was imperative and our kids responded, did a great job.”

Josh Richardson was a big part of Tennessee’s second half comeback, as he had 12 of his 18 points in the final 20 minutes. Forward Armani Moore also finished the game with 18 points, with more than half of his points coming from the free throw line, going 10-12 from the charity stripe.

“We come out flat a lot in the first half, we talked about it before the game but it happened again,” said Richardson after the game. “So I just came out attacking in the second half and told the guys to do the same.”

Santa Clara’s Brandon Clark led all scorers with 21 points, while Jared Brownridge finished the game with 12 points, only four of which came in the second half

The Broncos brought it as close as four-points with 0:38 remaining in the game but that was as close as they would get, as Tennessee closed out the game with free throws, clinching their fourth victory of the season.

Tennessee now advances in the winners bracket of the tournament, where they will face the winner of Kansas vs. Rhode Island on Friday.