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Thoughts from WCC Thursday: Home teams dominate on opening night

All 10 WCC teams have played a league game and the home teams went a perfect 5-0.

NCAA Basketball: Portland at Brigham Young
BYU’s Yoeli Childs had another huge game against Portland.
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Didn’t want to stay up late to take in a full slate of West Coast Conference weeknight action? Well, that’s a shame. Don’t worry though, we’ll get you all caught up anyway. Here are last night’s scores, the league standings and four thoughts on everything that went down Thursday night.

Pacific Tigers 48 - No. 20 Gonzaga Bulldogs 81
Portland Pilots 45 - BYU Cougars 69
San Francisco Dons 63 - San Diego Toreros 73
Pepperdine Waves 65 - Santa Clara Broncos 79
Loyola Marymount Lions 55 - Saint Mary’s Gaels 80

WCC Standings 12/28/17

Career highs for a couple of Cougars

Yoeli Childs and Elijah Bryant have been outstanding all season long, and on Thursday they had their best performances yet. Childs scored a career-high 26 points and added 13 rebounds to record his sixth double-double of the season (11th overall). Bryant went for 22 points and 15 rebounds. It was the first career double-double for the junior guard, and a new career high in rebounds.

For what it’s worth, there have been co-WCC Players of the Year just five times. And only once, when Pepperdine’s Orlando Phillips and Dane Suttle did it in 1983, have those two players been teammates.

San Diego’s lock-down D on display

The Toreros own the nation’s second best effective field goal percentage defense (40.9%). They’re really good at defending the paint, but even better on the perimeter. San Diego has held opponents to just 23 percent from three-point range this season. On Thursday in the Slim Gym, San Francisco went 2-for-15 from deep (13.3%). The Toreros have now given up a total of 50 three pointers this season. Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins, for comparison, has hit 44 three’s by himself.

Another tale of two halves in Spokane

Gonzaga fans have watched all season long as Zach Norvell Jr. (13 points) has been silent for 20 minutes before erupting in the second half of games. Thursday was no different as Norvell went one-for-three from the field in the first half before scoring 10 points in the second. Unfortunately, his streakiness seems to be contagious.

The Zags shot 37.5 percent and scored just 0.939 points per possession in the first half. In the second half they shot 52.9 percent and scored 1.613 points per possession. They had similar performances in each of their last two home games, against North Dakota and IUPUI, as well. Gonzaga’s good enough to recover in just 20 minutes against bad teams, but just wait until BYU, San Diego or Saint Mary’s come calling.

Keep an eye on the Pilots

I know, the Pilots were just blown out 69-45 in Provo. But for nearly 30 minutes Portland was running with the Cougars. With 16:16 to play JoJo Walker (11 points) hit a three to make it a one point game. It was the Pilots’ seventh three pointer of the game. Unfortunately for Terry Porter’s team, it was also the last.

For most of the first half the Pilots were taking as many threes as they were shots from inside the arc. They’ve been doing this all season long, too. Against Div. I competition — Portland has played three non-Div. I teams, for what it’s worth — the Pilots are scoring 42.5 percent of their points off three balls. They’re also really good from distance, having connected on 40.5 percent of their threes this season (23rd in the nation).

Portland is bad, and that final score isn’t pretty, but the Pilots have upset potential.