Conference tournament season is just around the corner. While not yet complete, the seeding and bracketing process took a big step forward in the WCC thanks to last night's four games.
Portland Pilots 61 at Saint Mary's Gaels 70
The Pilots have been playing far from full strength for a few games now. Tonight, without leading scorer Kevin Bailey and point guard Alec Wintering, Portland had to rely on its frontcourt. Thomas van der Mars (22 points, 17 rebounds) and Ryan Nicholas (13 points, 8 rebounds) have had great seasons, but they're not able to do it all. That was the case tonight.
Stephen Holt played the entire game and totaled 26 points for the Gaels. Brad Waldow added 14 and Kerry Carter, 12. Their efforts pushed the Gaels to the victory. Next up is a visit from the rival Zags.
The Gaels will be far from comfortable on Selection Sunday (unless, obviously, they win the WCC's auto-bid) but they're still in the hunt for an at-large berth. This win keeps their hopes alive and gives them a ton of momentum heading into Saturday's visit from rival Gonzaga.
Gonzaga Bulldogs 70 at Pacific Tigers 53
In case you missed it, Gonzaga won its 16th WCC regular season title. By the way, the first of those came in the 1993-1994 season.
San Francisco Dons 77 at Pepperdine Waves 53
San Francisco and BYU are tied for second place (though BYU has the tiebreaker when it comes to seeding in the WCC Tournament) and with this win, the Dons keep pace with the Cougars, who had tonight off. The Dons are still alive for a second place finish. For the Dons to do so they would need to end the season with a win at LMU coupled with a BYU loss at San Diego on Saturday.
The Waves, 15-14 (8-9), now hold a one game advantage over San Diego and Portland for fifth place. With a win this Saturday they will clinch the five seed in the WCC Tournament. A Pepperdine loss and Portland victory on Saturday would force the Waves into the six seed. Portland, by virtue of a victory over Gonzaga, holds the tiebreaker.
Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount came into this game in ninth and tenth place respectively in the ten team West Coast Conference. With the win, the Lions can now avoid finishing alone in last place. They'll need to win Saturday against San Francisco and Santa Clara must lose at Pepperdine. In that case, the teams will both finish with 5-13 records.
LMU senior Anthony Ireland (18.9 ppg) scored 20 points tonight, which puts him at 2,123 career points. He's closing in on Terrell Lowery, who's 2,201 points are second all time at LMU.