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West Coast Conference Thursday: 3 thoughts as Saint Mary’s starts to pull away

Saint Mary’s is the best team in the WCC.

NCAA Basketball: Brigham Young at St. Mary's Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Didn’t stay up late to catch Thursday’s West Coast Conference action? That’s too bad. Don’t worry, we’ll get you caught up anyway. Here are the scores and three thoughts from last night.

San Francisco Dons 69, Pacific Tigers 67
Pepperdine Waves 71, Loyola Marymount Lions 70
San Diego Toreros 66, Santa Clara Broncos 58
Gonzaga Bulldogs 95, Portland Pilots 79
Saint Mary’s Gaels 75, BYU Cougars 62

Gaels start to lap the pack

Saint Mary’s took down BYU 75-62 in Moraga to complete a season sweep of the Cougars. The Gaels sit alone atop the league halfway through the season, and their only game left against the league’s big three is at home against Gonzaga.

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, since Saint Mary’s was the preseason favorite. But after the non-conference, due to the Gaels’ Thanksgiving stumble and Gonzaga and BYU’s solid performances, it looked like a three-team race. It’s not.

Jock Landale recorded his 14th double-double of the season with 34 points and 14 rebounds, which puts him firmly in control of the WCC Player of the Year race.

Toreros get back on track

Santa Clara and San Diego entered Thursday with identical 4-4 records in conference play, which was unexpected to say the least.

San Diego was the surprising story of the season, running out to a program-best 12-3 record. But then the Toreros dropped four of five and fell to .500 in conference play. Santa Clara, on the other hand, was 3-9 at the start of WCC play with a loss to D-II Alaska-Anchorage on its resume.

So this isn’t exactly an impressive win for San Diego, but it was a necessary win. The Toreros had already dropped games to Portland and Pacific. San Diego can’t afford to lose any more like that if they want to finish in the top-half of the WCC and get a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

Gonzaga’s scoring again

After three straight games scoring in the 70s the Zags got back to its old high-scoring ways. The Zags bested their season average (88.2 points per game) with a 95-point performance in Portland Thursday night.

Killian Tillie tied his career high with 27 points in the victory.