WEST LAFAYETTE | Since missing a crucial free throw in the final seconds of a close loss to Loyola Marymount in the opening round of West Coast Conference tournament, Santa Clara sophomore Brandon Clark couldn't wait to get another chance in the same situation.
The Merrillville product just didn't expect it to come so soon.
"I was thinking I'd have to wait all year, until next year," Clark said after Monday's 86-83 thriller against Purdue in the second round of the CBI tournament. "As soon as I missed that one in the conference tournament, I was really hard on myself, but the coaching staff did a great job keeping my spirits up. It was good to have another chance. ...I knew I was going to make it."
Clark knocked down two foul shots with 8.6 seconds left to put Santa Clara (23-11) up four and the Broncos survived a missed 3 at the buzzer by Terone Johnson to escape with the win after nearly blowing an eight-point lead in the last two minutes.
"...He made it interesting two possessions earlier," coach Kerry Keating said of a Clark turnover that aided the Purdue comeback. "Brandon's a key part of our program. He's been a great addition for us. He's really earned his way into the rotation, developing into someone we can count on."
Clark scored nine points for the Broncos, just over his season average, hitting four of five free throws and a transition 3 during a second-half surge that pushed the lead to double figures for the visitors.
"I'm not sure if that was a great shot, but it went in," Keating said.
Santa Clara rode a remarkable 28-point second half by Kevin Foster, who finished with 33 points and three of the Broncos' nine 3s. They came in averaging eight triples per game.
"In high school, it was get it and slow it down," said Clark, who had 37 family members and friends on hand. "They scream at me when I get it to go. It's easier for me with all the shooters around me. I just have to draw the defender."
Purdue, in turn, struggled from the 3-point line, as it has all season. Johnson's miss at game's end was a symbolic punctuation mark.
Santa Clara, in turn, advances to the CBI semifinals with the win.
"It just felt great...to come back and play at Purdue, where my God-brother (E'Twaun Moore) played," Clark said. "I always wanted to play at Purdue or against Purdue, so I got one of my wishes."