Bal’s late basket leads Santa Clara to 77-76 upset victory over No. 23 Gonzaga

Bal’s late basket leads Santa Clara to 77-76 upset victory over No. 23 Gonzaga

SANTA CLARA — Adama-Alpha Bal scored the go-ahead basket with 4.6 seconds remaining and Santa Clara beat No. 23 Gonzaga 77-76 on Thursday night.

Bal had 17 points and six assists as the Broncos (12-6, 3-0 West Coast Conference) beat the Bulldogs for the first time since Jan. 20, 2011, snapping a 26-game losing streak.

Brenton Knapper added 16 points.

Santa Clara takes down Gonzaga!

Nothing like a CBB Court Storm!

— StickKid Sports (@StickKidSports) January 12, 2024

A sellout crowd at the Leavey Center erupted when the buzzer sounded and many fans stormed the court.

Anton Watson matched a career-high with 32 points to lead Gonzaga (11-5, 2-1). He added nine rebounds and six steals in the loss.

Ryan Nembhard scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, and Braden Huff added 14 points.

Trailing 52-44, Gonzaga went on a 19-6 run to take a 63-58 lead with 10:48 remaining. Santa Clara cut the lead to 76-74 on a dunk by Johnny O’Neil with 50 seconds remaining.

Following a Bulldogs miss, Bal drew a foul with 14.3 seconds left but only made one of two free throws, cutting the lead to 76-75.

Nembhard missed the front end of a one-and-one, allowing Santa Clara to get another chance and Bal scored the go-ahead basket.

Adama Bal #4 of the Santa Clara Broncos reacts after making the game winning basket against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Leavey Center on Jan. 11, 2024 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) 

Gonzaga missed its first 11 3-pointers of the game, and Santa Clara built a 38-25 lead. But the Bulldogs closed the first half on a 9-2 run to cut the Broncos’ lead to 40-34 at halftime.

Former Santa Clara standout and Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash was in attendance and received a standing ovation when he was shown on the video screen in the first half.

The Broncos wore throwback uniforms from the 1990s when Nash led the program to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of first-round upset wins.


Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are in serious jeopardy of falling out of the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time in 144 weeks. Gonzaga fell to 0-2 on the road this season.

Santa Clara: The Broncos improved to 3-0 in the WCC for the first time since the 2003-04 season and proved that they are a contender to win the league. Santa Clara will face another stiff test Saturday when they welcome Bay Area rival Saint Mary’s.


Santa Clara: Hosts Saint Mary’s on Saturday night.

Related Articles

College Sports |

Santa Clara women looking to climb back to top of West Coast Conference

College Sports |

Bay Area college basketball: Local teams have work to do if March Madness awaits in 2024