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Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating offers students special deal for Saturday’s game against No. 10 Gonzaga

Jan 3, 2013, 11:10 AM EDT

Kerry Keating AP

Kerry Keating’s Santa Clara Broncos have been one of the nation’s biggest surprises, as they’re now 12-3 on the season following a 74-69 win over San Francisco in the WCC opener for both teams last night.

And just one week after taking on top-ranked Duke the Broncos will have another chance to make a statement both nationally and within the WCC as No. 10 Gonzaga visits the Leavey Center on Saturday night.

Just one problem: dorms don’t reopen until Sunday, meaning that the student section could lack the energy (and bodies) needed to give the Broncos a boost against the WCC preseason favorite.

With this in mind Keating made an appeal to the students following last night’s game, offering to reimburse students up to $100 if they have to book a hotel room in order to attend the game.

“We need all their energy,” Keating said. “And if any of them read this and any of them want to stay here and can’t have a room on campus … I want them to personally call the office and I will reimburse them up to $100 for a hotel room.”

Santa Clara, due in large part to the loss of both guard Kevin Foster (suspension) and forward Marc Trasolini (torn ACL during their preseason trip to Canada), went 0-16 in WCC play last season. With those two rejoining Evan Roquemore it was expected that the Broncos would be an improved team.

But at 12-3 and already having a win at Saint Louis to its credit, Santa Clara has the opportunity to announce itself as a worthy contender alongside the Bulldogs, BYU and Saint Mary’s with a win on Saturday.

In order to do so not only will Santa Clara need the students to show up en masse but they’ll also need to keep Gonzaga off the boards.

Mark Few’s team is rebounding 39.6% of its missed shots according to statsheet.com, with Kelly Olynyk (2.4 offensive rebounds/game), Elias Harris (1.9) and Mike Hart (1.6) leading the way. And there’s also the matter of slowing down guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr.

Coach Keating and his players have a tough task ahead of them on the court, and as evidenced by his gesture the Broncos would appreciate any help their “6th man” can provide.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.