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Grip on Sports: If you can pull yourself away from the Olympic drama tonight, there are some important college basketball games

Canada's Meghan Agosta (2) skates away as the United States players celebrate after winning the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Canada's Meghan Agosta (2) skates away as the United States players celebrate after winning the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Not sure how I was able to do it, but I pulled myself away from watching Jocelyne Lamoureux’s gold-medal winning shootout goal this morning with enough time to check in on the Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Idaho basketball teams as they head on the road. Read on.

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• If you haven’t had a chance to see Lamoureux’s goal that gave the United States the gold, you are officially given permission to click over to it, watch it and then watch it again. But come back. …

Pretty impressive, huh?

All I kept thinking as I saw that this morning was how many hours of practice led to that 3-second move? Plays like that don’t happen by accident, you know. They are the culmination of days and days and days spent on the ice working toward one moment that may never come.

It came for the Lamoureux sisters last night, with Monique tying the game and Jocelyne – along with Maddie Rooney’s spot-on impression of Jim Craig in front of the net – sending the U.S. team into a frenzy in the shootout.

I’m pretty sure the U.S. Curling’s team pursuit of the gold won’t be as exciting, but I could be wrong.

• The road beckons tonight for four of our area’s men’s college teams. And they all have something crucial riding on the game.

For Washington State, it’s a chance to get out of the Pac-12 cellar with a win at California. We’ll just leave that note here and move on.

Eastern Washington and Idaho are on the Idaho State/Weber State swing, with different goals. The Vandals still have an outside shot at the regular season title, though their last four games are tougher than Montana’s last three. Eastern’s goal is more immediate – the Eagles are trying to hold off Northern Colorado and ensure a top four finish, which earns a bye in Reno.

And Gonzaga? All the Zags have on the line in this last weekend of WCC play is another league title. Win at San Diego tonight and at BYU on Saturday and GU has done it. Lose either and there is a good chance of a tie with Saint Mary’s. The No. 1 seed in the conference tournament first comes down to who you lost to, besides each other – a loss to BYU would keep GU above the Gaels, who lost to USF; a loss to San Diego is more problematic as the two are tied, with a showdown in San Francisco on Saturday – and then their respective RPI number.

So two wins it needs to be.

•••

WSU: Theo Lawson focuses on the table stakes in Berkeley tonight, where the Cougars will go all in trying to avoid the bottom spot in the conference standings. … Speaking of betting, the coaching roulette wheel has been spinning in Pullman recently. Theo has two stories this morning on the two newest members of the Washington State football staff. … Finally, want to bet where Luke Falk is going to end up in the NFL draft? Theo looks at those odds as well. There are also mentions in Sports Illustrated and Boston Globe stories.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there was one game last night in Boulder, where USC actually held off Colorado 75-64 and there was no bad blood between the coaches. USC did have some off-court news though. … Neither Washington nor Stanford can really afford to lose tonight, but one will. … Oregon State will try to take down Arizona. Good luck. … Arizona State and Oregon cling to NCAA hopes. The Sun Devils don’t have their biggest advantage tonight. … Utah was not good the last time it played UCLA, but gets a chance at redemption at home. … Colorado is the first school to begin spring football practice. It starts even before the Pac-12 basketball tournament.

Gonzaga: The puzzle that is USD’s defense awaits the Zags tonight in San Diego. Jim Meehan, who must love getting out of the cold here and driving through In-N-Out down there, has a preview of tonight’s game and a look at a Torero that gave GU fits in Spokane. … The Toreros only have one senior to honor tonight. … The Gonzaga women have already won the conference title. As Jim Allen explains, they are looking to build momentum in their last homestand. … Both teams had players honored for their academic prowess: Josh Perkins and a trio of GU women. … Former GU player Zach Collins is struggling with his shot. … Around the WCC, BYU enters the final weekend trying to hold down third place.

EWU: If tonight’s game in Ogden comes down to a free throw, the Eagles want Bogdan Bliznyuk at the line. Jim Allen explains why. … Jim also has a preview of their weekend. … Jim also has a spring football preview as the practices starts, oh, in five weeks or so.

Idaho: The Vandals are at Idaho State tonight.

Whitworth: The Pirates are at home tonight, hosting run-and-shoot Puget Sound tonight in the Northwest League semifinals. Jim has a preview of their weekend which leads to the NCAA Division III tournament draw on Monday.

Chiefs: Kamloops picked up a road win in Portland.

Preps: The regional round of the state basketball tournaments are this weekend. Dave Nichols has a preview. … Dave also looks back at the state wrestling tournament with this feature on Colville’s Trent Baum. … Steve Christilaw has a story on Freeman’s wrestling success. … There was Idaho basketball action last night. We have a roundup.

Mariners: The 2019 season opener may be a heck of a road trip for the M’s. And for Oakland. … There are always stories about players meeting their heroes at spring training, but there are rarely stories about a player starting a charity.

Seahawks: Keeping Paul Richardson is getting harder for Seattle. … Finding a replacement at safety for Kam Chancellor may be hard too.

Sounders: Seattle’s first road trip is to a city with a devastating past.

•••       

• One of the hardest aspects of February, besides the ice on the roads and the cold, cutting winds of course, is how short it is. The time to pay bills is condensed beyond reason. Until later …


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