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Friday, May 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: A late start is actually followed by Gonzaga’s late start – but also another double-digit win

Loyola Marymount forward Eli Scott, right, shoots over Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke (15) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Loyola Marymount forward Eli Scott, right, shoots over Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke (15) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The staff here at Grip on Sports is not a huge fan of late Gonzaga basketball games. When a game begins at 8 p.m., it’s bound to end around 10, and that’s past the staff’s usual curfew. It also doesn’t help when the opposition injects some ZZZQuil into the proceedings. Read on.

••••••••••

• It could be worse. Gonzaga’s 73-60 win over Loyola Marymount could have begun at 9 p.m. Or even 9:30. But then, being it was in Los Angeles after all, it ran the risk of running into the morning rush hour.

It was about 9:45 when the Zags seemed to wake up a little bit, putting on a late 13-2 run to make what was a close game seem a bit respectable to the poll voters who only read the final score.

Considering the hour east of the Rockies, I’m guessing that’s most of them.

One major college basketball coach, whose school is in the Eastern Time Zone, told me in October he had never seen Rui Hachimura play. The GU games were on too late for him.

Now that’s probably changed this season but the point was clear: the later the games out here, the less publicity there is back there.

It’s fine, actually, when the Zags play the way they did last night. Loyola Marymount dictated the pace of play, the Bulldogs seemed a bit disinterested in changing that (or rebounding) for most of the game and the part of the crowd not wearing their torn-and-tattered GU sweatshirts was happy to encourage the home team.

(As an aside, it was probably a good thing for Hachimura’s All-American chances this game was late. His offensive output was a typical 22 points, but he was back to being watch-the-action-Rui at times on the defensive end.)

But even the Lion faithful seemed a bit in shock their team was still in it with five minutes to play. When would the other Jordan CP3 XI hit the floor?

Not until Conan was almost on, but it did. The Zags locked down defensively, the Lions missed a free throw and a dunk, and Zach Norvell nailed a long 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired. Even the Loyola Marymount players seemed relieved to see the pressure dissipate.

So the Zags will continue their road trip Saturday night in San Diego. It will start an hour earlier. Maybe they will also start playing with more intensity and focus earlier as well. 

•••

Gonzaga: Only Jim Meehan was in attendance – not just for us, but mainly for the entire U.S. print media as well – and he has his usual coverage, the game analysis and the keys to the Zag win. … The guys in the office put together the recap with highlights. … And I had the TV Take, which, like the game itself, seems a bit sleepy as well. … The women were at home – even Kim didn’t attend, after a hard day at work – and took apart last-place San Diego. Jim Allen braved the conditions for this game story and Colin Mulvany has the photo report. … Around the WCC, the only game last night that was well covered was BYU's overtime win at San Diego, a game that kept the Cougars firmly in second place.

WSU: The Cougar baseball team is ready to start its season. Someplace warmer, of course. … Washington knows it will face maybe the hottest player in the conference this weekend in Robert Franks. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it's been that type of year for the Arizona Wildcats. They lost last night at Utah, shot down for only the second time in a conference game by the red-hot Utes. … Colorado is also playing better. … Oregon hopes to be healthy before the showdown with Oregon State. … Football news is also pretty hot this week, what with Oregon paying as much as $2.5 million to part ways with its defensive coordinator. That's a lot of money for an assistant. … How comfortable are Pac-12 teams with their quarterback situations?

EWU: The Eagles have lost some key pieces of its coaching staff and a former starting quarterback this offseason. But yesterday they learned starting center Spencer Blackburn would be back after he was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA. Ryan Collingwood has all the particulars. … Around the Big Sky, the most important game last night was in Utah, where Montana held off Weber State. … Idaho State couldn't hold off Montana State's rally. … Portland State used a big first half to ease past Northern Arizona.

Idaho: This is not the best UI basketball season, at least for the men. They lost their 10th consecutive game and this one, at home, was a blowout. Northern Colorado won 75-47. Peter Harriman has the story, which includes comments from a Vandal assistant coach.

Preps: No, there were no 4A and 3A playoff games played last night. They are scheduled to be played tonight. But they may not, as the GSL just sent out a tweet saying they are postponed. Follow Dave Nichols on Twitter (@DNicholsSR) for updates. … Dave has a story on last night’s postponements. … The Idaho girls State Tournament is underway and there was a huge upset on the first night of 5A action. … We also have a roundup of girls and boys action from around the area. … After a long pause due to the weather, Washington's wrestlers get back at it this weekend at State. Ryan has a preview of the expanded meet.

Mariners: The bullpen looks different, but there are one or two familiar names.

Seahawks: Going into last season, tight end was a question mark. Not anymore.

•••       

• Does the AMA recognize cabin fever as a real ailment? If so, put me down for a Grade 1 case of the bug. It’s time to head someplace where the sun shines, the waves roar and the birds chirp. Anybody got an extra room I can crash in? Until later …

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