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Thoughts from WCC Thursday: Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s steady as upsets rock the league’s bottom-seven

San Diego and San Francisco suffered bad losses on the road Thursday night.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Gonzaga
Silas Melson had a career night against his hometown team.
James Snook-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.

Portland Pilots 57 - No. 15 Gonzaga Bulldogs 103
Pepperdine Waves 63 - BYU Cougars 83
San Francisco Dons 65 - Loyola Marymount Lions 67
San Diego Toreros 70 - Pacific Tigers 74
Saint Mary’s Gaels 81 - Santa Clara Broncos 57

West Coast Conference standings after Thursday, Jan. 11, 2017.

Pacific pulls off another upset

On Saturday it was the Cougars who walked out of Stockton with an unexpected loss. Last night it was the San Diego Toreros.

The Tigers really shouldn’t have won this game. They shot just 36 percent from the field and made only five three pointers. San Diego is one of the nation’s best shooting defenses, so those numbers aren’t unexpected. But the Toreros are also one of the most foul prone teams around. Thursday night they sent the Tigers to the line 35 times, and the Tigers scored 33 points there.

It’s a brutal loss for San Diego, which is coming off a hardfought defeat in Moraga to Saint Mary’s. The Toreros should end up in the NIT, but they’ve now got two ugly losses on their resume.

Season of disappointment drags on for Dons

San Francisco was picked fourth in the WCC preseason poll. They’re two games over .500 on the season, but sit seventh in the standings with a 2-3 record in league play. They’ve been without sophomore Charles Minlend, who was named to the preseason all-WCC first team, all season. The guard was dealing with a shoulder injury in the preseason, but the team has been completely silent on his status since media day.

So, you can point to that if you’re looking for a reason why USF isn’t living up to expectations.

But even without Minlend this team should be well above seventh in the WCC, especially considering that other than USF every team outside of the league’s top four sits minimally two games below .500 on the season.

Yet here they are, losing to an LMU team I picked to finish dead last in the preseason. An LMU team which has risen all the way to ninth in my power rankings simply because injuries have been decimating tenth place Pepperdine all season long.

Gonzaga’s dominance continues

Mark Few’s squad has opened the conference season on a tear.

Gonzaga’s averaging 91.8 points over the first five games of the WCC season. The Zags have scored over 100 points on six occasions this season, two of which have come since the start of conference play. The most recent came Thursday night in a 101-57 win over the Portland Pilots.

Granted, those five games have come against the five worst teams in the WCC according to KenPom. But Gonzaga’s been absolutely dominant in every way, from start to finish in each game.

On Thursday against Portland the Zags shot 52.6 percent from the field. At halftime they led by 16 points, but didn’t take their foot of the gas and hit 59 percent of their shots after the break. Sure, the competition might not be that impressive but the intensity Gonzaga’s been playing with certainly has been.

Silas Melson sets career highs, downs hometown team

He led Jefferson High School to two Oregon state titles, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Portland product Silas Melson plays good basketball when his hometown is involved.

Thursday against the Pilots, Melson set two career highs. The senior shooting guard knocked down 7 three pointers, topping his previous career-best of five. Those seven threes accounted for the vast majority of his career high 23 points. Melson, who started just three games over his first three seasons at Gonzaga, bested his previous career high of 21, which he set earlier this season against Creighton.