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Sunday morning in the Northwest

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Can't say I joined what was probably most of you in your main activity yesterday. Nope, I didn't get to watch the NFL playoffs, most notably the game of the century – as of now, anyway – in San Francisco. Missed that one and the rout in the nightcap. Had other obligations. Read on.


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• When asked Friday on the radio which NFL game I was looking forward to the most this weekend, I answered without hesitating. New Orleans at San Francisco. Two polar opposite teams. A playoff veteran with a veteran quarterback vs. a playoff newbie with a quarterback getting a second chance, sort of like Jim Plunkett in his Raider days. A high-scoring team on turf facing a tough defensive group on grass. Fun. Only problem was I knew I wouldn't get to see it. I had already agreed to cover a high school basketball game for the Review – the Greater Spokane League's only Saturday action of the season – and trying to avoid any knowledge of an NFL playoff game in a public setting these days – thank you iPhones – is impossible. So we had to be happy reading tweets about this being the greatest playoff game ever and watching the ESPN scoreline update with long scoring plays about ever minute down the stretch. Did I say “happy?” I meant ticked off. If you got to watch it, I want to know: Was it as good as everyone is saying? Was the ending as exhilarating as it sounds? Let me know. Twist the knife a bit with you comments, it's OK. I want to wallow in my self pity a bit longer.

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• Washington State: A big day today for the Cougars, what with the always-important battle with UW looming, a game made more important by WSU's 1-3 start to Pac-12 play. We'll let Christian Caple give you all the Pac-12 links – Oregon sweeps desert road trip, Stanford and Cal roll, Oregon State collapses – in his morning post, but we can't let you miss all the build up to the big game today. Christian has this advance covering the Cougars' plans to cover freshman star Tony Wroten (and some thoughts in the News Tribune). And the Seattle Times' Percy Allen looks at WSU's recruiting of West Side players. … By the way, there was snow in Seattle this morning, so getting to the game should be fun for you folks. … Former Cougar Mike Harthun is getting comfortable at PSU. …  There are some interesting developments around the Pac-12 we want to cover, including Darron Thomas' odd decision yesterday to enter the NFL draft. As he's not what you would call an NFL-ready quarterback, the Oregon junior's decision seems off-base. Makes me wonder if there isn't more behind it than a chance to play professionally. … When I started covering college football, folks rarely talked about the program's strength coach. Now that's as important a spot as the offensive coordinator. WSU missed out on the one Mike Leach wanted, but ASU has a new one. … The Sun Devils lost a linebacker that committed to Dennis Erickson. The worst part of the deal is he decided to enroll at Arizona. … Remember all the big hoopla about the cost of attendance money being made available to athletes? Well, not so fast. Not when the NCAA rank-and-file is involved. The board of directors put on the brakes yesterday. … OK, now we'll get back to WSU and the women's basketball team. The Cougars lost to UW for the 33rd consecutive time on Saturday, despite being at home and despite having a better record. The final: 60-51. Josh Wright has this story for us and you can watch video highlights from the game, along with postgame comments, below, all courtesy of Washington State.

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• The highlights …

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• Coach June Daugherty …

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• WSU's players …

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• Gonzaga: Expect Jim Meehan to have a post this morning with more on the Bulldogs tough 62-58 win at Loyola-Marymount last night. But until then, we have his game story that ran in the S-R and this story we found in the Loyola student newspaper. Otherwise, it was tough to find coverage of what was an exciting game, maybe too exciting for Zag fans used to blowouts of the Lions. … St. Mary's suffered a letdown after GU left town, but was still able to hold off woeful Portland 69-61 and remained undefeated in WCC plays. … BYU kept pace with Gonzaga in second place by blowing out Santa Clara, 95-78 at home. … USF is back on the winning track, putting away Pepperdine 78-63. … A good week for St. Mary's turned out to be a bad week for the Zags, as the women also lost – at home – to the Gaels. Dave Trimmer checks in with this story

• Eastern Washington: Talk about an awful way to lose a game. The Eagles had just taken a 70-69 lead at Northern Colorado on a Collin Chiverton jumper with 18 seconds left. But, as the teams battled for a loose ball, Chiverton called a timeout six seconds later. The problem? The Eagles has used their allotted five. Technical foul, Tate Unruh hit both free throws and UNC escaped with a 71-70 win. … We have this short summary, but the Greeley paper's story is behind a pay-wall, so we can't link that.

• Idaho: Wright put together this blog post following Idaho's 80-68 defeat and we have this short summary of the game in this morning's S-R. … From Las Cruces, we were able to find this game story.

• Preps: We were asked to cover the undefeated Central Valley Lady Bears facing off with defending State 4A champion Lewis and Clark. It turned out to be a rout, with CV dominating the first half defensively. Here is our story.

• Chiefs: Another rivalry game with Tri-Cities turns into a win for Spokane. Jess Brown has this story.

• NFL: So we already talked about the great game at Candlestick yesterday, but we have so more stories to pass along, including a bunch of columns out of the Bay Area that are worth reading. … And, if you want to relive the beatdown the Patriots put on the overmatched Broncos – Tim Tebow or not – you can here and here.

• Mariners: More than half of those of you who answered our poll yesterday didn't like the M's trade of Michael Pineda, with a plurality saying he was too high a price to pay for Jesus Moreno. In a sense Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer agrees with you, who says it's a big gamble for Seattle.

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• That's all for this morning. We'll be back with you tomorrow, though there might be some Twitter droppings today during the NFL games, if I don't get dragged out to lunch and a movie with Kim. Until later …


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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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