There was only one nationally televised WCC game on Saturday, and you’re excused if you don’t know how to find BYUtv, so you probably missed some of the weekend’s West Coast action. That’s a shame. But we’ll get you caught up anyway.
Here are the scores, league standings and some stories from Saturday.
San Diego Toreros 89 - Loyola Marymount Lions 82
Santa Clara Broncos 73 - Pepperdine Waves 59
San Francisco Dons 73 - No. 15 Gonzaga Bulldogs 82
Pacific Tigers 65 - BYU Cougars 80
Portland Pilots 55 - No. 16 Saint Mary’s Gaels 72
Saint Mary’s sets record streak
Saturday night, the Gaels did something they’ve been doing for the past two months. They won. And, as has been the case more often than not, they won big. The Gaels blew out Portland 72-55 in brutally efficient fashion despite a quiet night from Jock Landale (6 points).
With the win, Saint Mary’s broke a program record set almost a decade ago during the 2008-09 season.
Saint Mary’s hasn’t lost since November 26, 2017. That was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. They’ve won 16 straight since then.
No team has a longer active winning streak, and only Purdue can match what the Gaels have done. And while Purdue has been playing tougher competition, it’s not like Saint Mary’s has been playing a bunch of slouches, at least since the start of conference play.
Back in 2008-09, when the Gaels won 15 straight, their streak came to an end at Gonzaga. Last week Saint Mary’s took down the Zags in Spokane to keep this streak alive. They’ve also swept BYU and beaten the other two teams in the top-half of the league standings. With the roughest road in their rear view mirror, it’s not unreasonable to expect the Gaels to win every game between now and March. For what it’s worth, KenPom predicts that will happen.
Cougars battle illness, tame Tigers
Sophomore forward Yoeli Childs, BYU’s best player, had started every game of the season until Saturday. He had been battling an illness throughout the week, so Dave Rose kept him on the bench.
It didn’t stop Childs from going for 26 points, on 10-15 shooting, and six rebounds.
If it weren’t for Jock Landale, Childs would be the frontrunner for WCC Player of the Year. His closest competitor would likely be his own teammate, Elijah Bryant.
Bryant has been great all season long, but with Childs hampered by illness and slow to start on Saturday, Bryant stepped up in a huge way. He scored seven of the Cougars first 13 points and finished with 28 for the game.
Bryant’s hot start was necessary because BYU has had some trouble with the Tigers. Pacific has gone 2-4 against BYU over the past three seasons and won the first leg of this series earlier this month in Stockton. On Saturday, for most of the first half, the Tigers held the lead in Provo, too.
In the first half Bryant led the way to keep the Cougars in it. In the second it was Childs, who scored 20 points after the break, who put the Tigers away. BYU’s got the best tandem in the West Coast Conference.
Gonzaga overcomes inconsistency once again
Playing at home, the No. 15 team in the country should have no problem against a San Francisco squad with double-digits in the loss column. But the Zags simply couldn’t put the Dons away.
Big plays down the stretch from Johnathan Williams (16 points), and others, sealed the victory for the home team. Williams’ performance was representative of the team’s as a whole.
“For whatever reason he just slept through the first half,” head coach Mark Few said of Williams.
But Williams alone wasn’t responsible for the Dons’ 18-3 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half.
“I wouldn’t say I’d give the consistent word to anybody in our program currently,” Few said. “That’s the toughest thing right now... It’s quite a battle with the whole group.”
San Diego makes it back-to-back
Entering conference play the Toreros looked poised to bust apart the WCC’s triumvirate of Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU. Then the Toreros lost to the Gaels and Cougars, and dropped stunners to Pacific and Portland.
A week ago, with a .500 record in conference play, it was fair to ask if the Toreros were a paper tiger.
Now though, after back-to-back wins over Santa Clara and at Loyola Marymount, we’ve got a pretty good picture of what this team is. The fourth best team, with the fourth best resume, in the WCC. Pacific has developed into a solid squad, so that loss isn’t as bad as we thought. Which makes the 49 point performance against Portland simply an outlier. Lamont Smith’s team should be favored in every game against non-big-three teams for the rest of the season.