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Week 12 WCC Power Rankings and Team of the Week

Gonzaga cruises, Santa Clara continues to impress and more.

NCAA Basketball: St. Mary's at Santa Clara
Two of the WCC’s top three teams, Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara, battled Saturday in the South Bay. Second place Saint Mary’s came out on top.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s keep rolling along, while Santa Clara proved itself with a split during a brutal week. Here’s the weekly rundown:

Team of the Week

Guard: Nigel Williams-Goss (sixth appearance) — Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Zags’ junior point guard scored 25 points on 11 of 15 shooting on Thursday against San Diego. He added five rebounds, five assists and did not turn the ball over once.

Guard: Jared Brownridge (fifth appearance) — Santa Clara Broncos
The senior shooting guard powered Santa Clara past BYU on Thursday playing all 40 minutes and scoring 25 points.

Forward: Ray BowlesPacific Tigers
The Tigers can’t really shoot, but the junior forward sure can. Bowles averaged 20.5 ppg last week and connected on 13-of-14 free throws.

Forward: Eric Mika (fifth appearance) — BYU Cougars
Mika had been on a streak of seven straight double-doubles, until last week. He failed to hit double-digit rebounds in both games last week. Still, he averaged 25 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Dude’s legit, and just a sophomore.

Center: Przemek Karnowski (third appearance) — Gonzaga Bulldogs
Four assists per game last week for Karnowski, the best passing big man in the game. He’s third on the team in assists despite playing only 22 minutes per game, and, you know, being a center.

Power Rankings

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-0, 10-0)
Last week: W 83-64 at Portland, W 79-43 vs. San Diego, W 96-49 at Pepperdine
This week: 2/2 at BYU, 2/4 vs. Santa Clara
Previous: First

It was a rare three game week and the Zags cruised through like it was nothing. Shouldn’t be surprising, since they’ve been doing this all year long.

On Thursday night against San Diego, Gonzaga opened in an odd but effective way. 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski dished out four assists in the first ten minutes, and point guard Nigel Williams-Goss got his own shot at will, opening seven-of-seven from the field.

Gonzaga is outright dominant at every position on both sides of the ball. The Zags rank sixth nationally in effective field goal percentage (57.8%) and second nationally in effective field goal percentage defense (41.4%). There is not a better overall team in the nation.

2. Saint Mary’s Gaels (19-2, 9-1)
Last week: W 66-46 vs. San Francisco, W 72-59 at Santa Clara
This week: 2/2 at Pacific, 2/4 at San Diego
Previous: Second

The Gaels scored 1.306 points per possession against a solid Santa Clara defense on Saturday. It was the most points per possession the Broncos have given up this season, making Santa Clara the seventh team this season to see their worst defensive performance come against Saint Mary’s.

Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon, the Gaels two starting point guards, combined to dish out 28 assists against just 10 turnovers last week.

3. Santa Clara Broncos (12-11, 6-4)
Last week: W 76-68 vs. BYU, L 72-59 vs. Saint Mary’s
This week: 2/2 at Portland, 2/4 at Gonzaga
Previous: Fourth

In the 11 games since KJ Feagin (13.5 ppg) returned from injury, Santa Clara has gone 7-4. The Broncos’ defense has crystallized since his return, and Thursday night they showed that defense to the nation. BYU managed 68 points, its second lowest total this season, at the Leavey Center Thursday. And it wasn’t because the Broncos slowed the game down. They let the Cougars run, but kept them from scoring.

4. BYU Cougars (16-7, 7-3)
Last week: L 76-68 at Santa Clara, W 85-77 vs. Loyola Marymount
This week: 2/2 vs. Gonzaga, 2/4 vs. Portland
Previous: Third

Through 23 games the Cougars have turned the ball over more than their opponents on 17 occasions. Last week, the Cougars turned the ball over on more than a quarter of their possessions, but for the season they’re not really all that turnover prone. They just don’t play defense, and they don’t turn the opposition over.

Additionally, with Thursday’s loss at Santa Clara, BYU has now lost at least once to every team in the West Coast Conference. That loss was also BYU’s second of the season to a WCC team other than Saint Mary’s. Only once, back in 2012, has BYU made it through conference play without dropping at least two games to teams not named Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga.

5. San Francisco Dons (15-8, 5-5)
Last week: L 66-46 at Saint Mary’s, W 81-60 at Pacific
This week: 2/2 vs. Pepperdine, 2/4 vs. Loyola Marymount
Previous: Fifth

Ronnie Boyce (14.2 ppg) is the Dons’ leading scorer. He’s been coming off the bench since mid-December. Saturday against Pacific, San Francisco’s starting five scored 25 points. Boyce scored 24.

6. San Diego Toreros (11-11, 4-6)
Last week: L 79-43 at Gonzaga, W 68-52 at Portland
This week: 2/2 vs. Loyola Marymount, 2/4 vs. Saint Mary’s
Previous: Sixth

Spokane product Brett Bailey had his final collegiate homecoming Thursday against Gonzaga. The senior had his worst game of the season with just five points and an offensive rating of 39.

7. Loyola Marymount Lions (10-11, 3-7)
Last week: W 79-73 vs. Pacific, L 85-77 at BYU
This week: 2/2 at San Diego, 2/4 at San Francisco
Previous: Seventh

The Lions attempted 57 three-pointers over their two games last week. That’s up from 32 the week before. For the season the Lions are below average nationally, with three’s accounting for less than a third of their shot attempts.

8. Pacific Tigers (8-15, 2-8)
Last week: L 79-73 at Loyola Marymount, L 81-60 vs. San Francisco
This week: 2/2 at BYU, 2/4 vs. Santa Clara
Previous: Eighth

Five straight losses for the Tigers, who have scored 51, 50, 47, 73 and 60 in those games. That one game over 60 points came against an LMU team that plays every single team, regardless of quality, close.

The Tigers have the least efficient offense in the WCC. Since the start of conference play, only Portland has been worse on that end of the floor, but the Pilots can blame that losing their best player. Pacific has no excuse. The Tigers just can’t shoot.

9. Pepperdine Waves (8-16, 2-8)
Last week: W 78-60 vs. Portland, L 96-49 vs. Gonzaga
This week: 2/2 at San Francisco, 2/4 vs. Pacific
Previous: 10th

Two-pointers have accounted for 61 percent of the Waves’ points this season, the third highest percentage in college basketball. Senior forwards Lamond Murray (140) and Chris Reyes (122) have made over 100 two’s this season. No other player on the roster has made 100 total field goals.

The Waves have a game plan and they stick to it. It’s just not very good.

10. Portland Pilots (9-13, 2-8)
Last week: L 78-60 at Pepperdine, L 68-52 vs. San Diego
This week: 2/2 vs. Santa Clara, 2/4 at BYU
Previous: Ninth

In week six, Portland was 7-9 and sat in third place in the power rankings. The Pilots have won just twice since then. They’re on an eight-game losing streak and have not managed to adapt to life without Alec Wintering. Rough times for first year coach Terry Porter.