A lot has changed for Evan Roquemore since he was home for Thanksgiving.
The former Foothill High standout is finishing a fine freshman season at Santa Clara. After coming off the bench during the Las Vegas Invitational in November, the 6-foot-3-inch Roquemore has become the Broncos' starting point guard. His minutes are up, his shooting has improved and so has his defense.
Roquemore scored 21 points to lead Santa Clara to a 76-68 victory over Loyola Marymount on Saturday at Orleans Arena, putting the fourth-seeded Broncos (19-13) in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals against top-seeded Saint Mary's at 5 p.m. today.
Roquemore shot 5-for-7 from the field and 9-for-10 at the free-throw line. He also grabbed five rebounds.
"I'm trying to take fewer and better shots," he said. "I went through a stretch when I was missing a lot, so I dialed it back a little and I'm now making more."
Coach Kerry Keating said it all comes with being smart and patient.
"He really understands the game," Keating said. "He's made an impact on our program from the moment he got here. He bided his time and put in the work with the coaches to get better."
That Santa Clara was able to get Roquemore was nothing more than good fortune. The Broncos had one scholarship to offer and the decision came down to Roquemore, a Class 4A All-State pick who averaged 23.8 points as a Foothill senior, and a junior college player.
Though Roquemore had solid Division I offers from Ball State and Fairfield, he wanted to stay close to home and was prepared to attend prep school for a year to improve his chances of landing a scholarship from a West Coast school.
In July, Roquemore's summer league play with Las Vegas squad DreamVision caught the eye of several coaches who were surprised he still hadn't signed.
At the same time, the juco recruit that Santa Clara was targeting washed out academically, but Keating was unable to call Roquemore to offer him the scholarship because it was an NCAA no-contact period.
"We were afraid we were going to lose him," Keating said. "But then he showed up on our campus after the summer tournament in Vegas and we got him into school right away with no problem because he was a very good student.
"Bottom line? We got lucky."
Roquemore has rewarded Keating's faith. He's averaging 32 minutes, 11.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 83 percent on free throws. He made the WCC All-Freshman team, and many think Roquemore, not Gonzaga's Marquise Carter, should have been the league's newcomer of the year.
"He's got an unbelievable future," Keating said.
On Saturday, Santa Clara ousted short-handed Loyola Marymount (11-21), which was without starting guard Vernon Teel. He was sent home for "conduct detrimental to the team" after Friday's 72-68 victory over Portland. Anthony Ireland led LMU with 24 points.
■ San Francisco 76, Pepperdine 59 -- Rashad Green had 23 points and 10 rebounds, lifting the third-seeded Dons (17-13) over the sixth-seeded Waves (12-21). USF reached the WCC semifinals for the first time since 2003 and will play No. 2 Gonzaga at 7:30 p.m. today.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.