Eight of the WCC's 10 teams were in action on Thursday night. Of those four games, the first, second and third to finish ended with the expected victor taking the spoils. Things got interesting in the fourth game and as a result one NCAA Tournament hopeful finds itself in a precarious position, barely a week into January.
San Francisco Dons 57 at Gonzaga Bulldogs 88
San Francisco hasn't won against Gonzaga in Spokane since 1989 — which has to be the real inspiration behind the title of Taylor Swift's newest album. This season has been surprisingly difficult for Rex Walter's Dons, who are now 1-4 in conference play.
We published a full recap of this game last night, go ahead and read it here.
Santa Clara Broncos 61 at Portland Pilots 78
The Broncos went up to Portland and took the first lead, but then they didn't score for nearly five minutes.
Portland kept Santa Clara's stellar backcourt duo of Brandon Clark (15.7 ppg) and Jared Brownridge (13.8 ppg) in check, holding both well below their season averages. Frustrated by the Pilots' defense, Clark and Brownridge both shot 30% or worse from the field.
For the Pilots, this game was something of a sign of things to come. The Pilots had played eight straight games without last year's leading scorer, Kevin Bailey, who was out with a foot injury. He came off the bench today and played only 11 minutes, but a finally healthy Portland is a scary Portland team. Four of their five losses this season came without Bailey, two of those were in overtime and the other two were close games against Gonzaga and at BYU.
Alec Wintering continues his breakout sophomore season. The point guard is averaging 21.5 points per game in conference play and led the game with 26.
Loyola Marymount Lions 50 at San Diego Toreros 59
LMU's last win came on Christmas against a DePaul team which is currently alone atop the impressively good Big East. They've now lost four straight and find themselves alone at the bottom of the WCC. For much of the game the Lions gave themselves a puncher's chance to pick move out from the cellar.
Then, the LMU offense started playing like the LMU offense.
Evan Payne (20.5 ppg) finished with just 13 points on 5-13 shooting. His poor shooting isn't unusual, but his lack of trips to the line is — he attempted just three free throws — and that's what kept his point total so far below his average.
For the Toreros, it was business as usual as Johnny Dee (18 points) and Christopher Anderson (14 points) led a late game surge to put the Lions away for good. Jito Kok set the school's single-game blocks record with eight.
The Lions are still winless in conference play, which isn't unexpected with a first year coach and not much talent around Evan Payne. San Diego avoided a loss that would have seriously hindered their ability to finish in the top-half of the WCC.
Pepperdine Waves 67 at BYU Cougars 61
No, you didn't read anything from that score incorrectly.
Yes, Pepperdine defeated BYU. Yes, the Waves beat BYU in Provo. Yes, they held the nation's highest scoring team 27 points below their average, tying the Cougars' season low. Only Utah, a top-10 team has held the Cougars to 61 points this season.
The Waves brought Stacy Davis, their all-WCC forward, off the bench for some reason. He still managed a team high 23 points and eight rebounds. Jeremy Major and Jett Raines added 14 and 10 for the Waves, who never trailed in the game.
Tyler Haws got his, as always, to the tune of 26 points. But Kyle Collinsworth was nowhere near a triple-double — a feat we're slowly growing accustomed to as the junior has done it thrice this season. Hampered by illness he had just four points on 1-8 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
The Cougars clawed back late but the Waves managed to hold on. This has the feeling of a result that could haunt the Cougars come March. Nothing beats meaningful games early in conference play.