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In brief: GU women eye 9th straight title

Womens basketball: Most West Coast Conference women’s basketball players have something in common.

Unless they are returning players at BYU or Saint Mary’s, they have never witnessed their team defeating Gonzaga in conference play.

Gonzaga opens its quest for a ninth consecutive WCC title at 6 tonight against San Diego (8-4) at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The Bulldogs went undefeated in conference play during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and finished 14-2 in the WCC last year after a three-point home defeat against Saint Mary’s and a blowout loss at BYU.

The WCC coaches’ preseason poll tabbed BYU (61 points) as the favorite to unseat Gonzaga (60) this year, but GU coach Kelly Graves remains undaunted.

“We have 16 games to prove whether we’re the best team or not,” said Graves, whose Bulldogs finished nonconference play with a 10-4 record. “We’ve done that for eight straight seasons. I would take my squad anytime. I think this is the kind of team that can win a ninth straight championship.”

Six of the nine WCC teams finished nonconference play with records better than .500. That includes Santa Clara (7-5), which plays at GU at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Santa Clara’s head coach is Jennifer Mountain, the former Gonzaga player, St. George’s boys head coach and GU assistant coach. First-year assistant coach Stacy Clinesmith starred at Mead High and UC Santa Barbara before being drafted by Sacramento of the WNBA in 2000.

Boise State sees stability in MWC

College football: For Boise State president Bob Kustra, the decision to part ways with the Big East and rejoin the Mountain West ultimately came down to predictable revenue, conference stability and the opportunity for the football team to cash in on its growing national brand.

Boise State’s decision was made easier by the Mountain West’s new television contract for football games and a willingness to give Boise State a few special perks.

“I was committed to the Big East decision and thought it was a good decision,” Kustra said Wednesday. “But this thing started changing, and then it became a different matter. That’s where Boise State and the Mountain West come together for this very innovative approach.”