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Gonzaga beats BYU for WCC crown

As junior guard Gary Bell Jr. put it afterward, “No more bubble talk.”

Gonzaga secured the WCC Tournament title with a 75-64 victory over BYU on Tuesday, earning its 16th straight NCAA Tournament berth. Sam Dower, with 20 points and 13 boards, was named MVP. David Stockton had seven assists, five rebounds, four points and three steals to join Dower, BYU's Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth and USF's Cole Dickerson on the All-Tournament team.

My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for my day-after post.

Day after Saint Mary’s

Another busy day ahead in Las Vegas with the Gonzaga men and women playing for titles at Orleans Arena — GU-BYU women at 1, GU-BYU men at 6 — so we'll move on to our day-after Saint Mary's post.

It'll be shorter than usual. Heading to the arena soon and Gonzaga players had exited the locker room by the time the Bulldogs' press conference ended.

GU roughed up the Gaels again Monday night, 70-54, to advance to the championship game. Here's my game story, John Blanchette's column, Colin Mulvany's photos (many of these pictures show the physical nature of the contest), and recaps in the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times.

GU's women handled Saint Mary's on Monday. Photo gallery here.

BYU's men went cold for the last 6 minutes of regulation but managed to advance to the title game by edging San Francisco in overtime. More on that game here, here, here and here. BYU's women pulled away in the second half against Pacific.

 

Gonzaga women advance to championship game

Haiden Palmer scored 16 points, Lindsay Sherbert had 14 in the first half and Shelby Cheslek added 11 points and 14 rebounds Gonzaga defeated Saint Mary's 68-60 on Monday.

The victory moves the top-seeded Bulldogs (28-4) into Tuesday's championship game against No. 2 BYU, a 77-64 winner over No. 3 Pacific.

Here's a link to my game story. Here's Colin Mulvany's photo gallery.

 

GU will face Santa Clara

The top-seeded Gonzaga men's basketball team will face No. 9 Santa Clara in the quarterfinals Saturday at 6 at Orleans Arena.

The Broncos (14-18) thumped No. 8 Pacific 81-64 late Thursday night. Guards Jared Brownridge (20 points), Evan Roquemore (17) and Brandon Clark (15) led the way with a combined 52 points. Gonzaga swept Santa Clara during the regular season, winning 54-52 on Sam Dower Jr.'s 3-pointer in the closing seconds in Santa Clara and 74-60 in Spokane.

The No. 1-seeded GU women will take on San Francisco on Friday at 6 p.m. The eighth-seeded Dons (12-18) upended No. 9 Loyola Marymount 63-62 on Thursday on Taj Winston's layup with one second remaining. Gonzaga swept USF during the regular season.

 

 

Top-seeded Zags await first assignments

I believe it was Bill Murray who best described post-season basketball: “OK, I guess we're playing for keeps now.”

OK, I might be taking his line a tad out of context, but it's too late to type another intro. Gonzaga's men and women — I take on double duty at the WCC tournaments — move into their respective tournaments as the top seeds, awaiting Thursday's outcomes before learning their first-round assignments. Gonzaga's women open Friday, the men Saturday.

Here's a look at the GU women and here's a look at the GU men. Here's a glance at the tourney.

 

 

GU beats USD to claim WCC crown

About 20 minutes from tipoff of the Gonzaga men's game against Saint Mary's at the Orleans Arena. We'll see if GU can make it 2 for 2 in title games.

The Gonzaga women shut down San Diego 62-50 earlier Monday to claim the WCC Tournament championship. The Zags are headed to the NCAAs for the fifth straight year.

My unedited game story is below.

In-game updates on the GU-Saint Mary's men at twitter.com/srjimm.

GU teams prepare for title games

Press conferences Sunday at the Orleans on the day before the WCC Tournament title games.

We have previews of the Gonzaga women vs. San Diego — GU could be without WCC player of the year Taelor Karr — and GU's men vs. Saint Mary's. The women play at 1, the men at 6.

 

Gonzaga women defeat BYU 62-43

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the GU women vs. BYU game in Las Vegas.  GU women beat BYU 62-43. GU will face Saint Mary's-San Diego winner for title Monday.  Check out a big picture gallery of his photos.

WCC changing double-bye tourney format

The West Coast Conference will change its men's and women's basketball tournaments when it becomes a 10-team league in 2014, scrapping the format that rewarded the top two teams with double-byes into the semifinals. 

The WCC, which welcomes Pacific in 2013-14, will adopt a traditional 10-team tournament with the 10th seed playing No. 7 and No. 8 vs. No. 9 on the first day. The top six seeds will enter the tournament in the quarterfinals on the second day. Gonzaga's men and women have enjoyed double byes for years at the tournament.

ESPN.com first reported the format change. UPDATE: Here's a release from the WCC.

The conference tournaments will be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for at least one more year. The contract runs out after the 2013 event. The WCC is considering several other venues as well as re-upping with the Orleans.


  

Gaels Finally Blow Away Zags

It’s been 15 years in the making, but finally someone took it all away from the Gonzaga Bulldogs. All right, not all of it. Not all the history – not the charmed rise from mom-and-pop store to national franchise, not the Bracketville thrills, not the Spokane mania, not the investment that got the gym built, not even entrée into this year’s NCAA tournament. And not – forgive the odious term, please – the brand. But for the first time in the decade and a half, the Zags have no championship banner to hang. No regular-season title. And now no West Coast Conference tournament championship/John Blanchette, SR. More here.

Question: Will the Zags do well in the NCAA tournament?

BYU defeats Gonzaga for WCC championship

On Feb. 25th, BYU had a chance to earn a co-WCC women's regular-season title with a win over Gonzaga but was routed 77-60 in Spokane. The Cougars had another opportunity against GU on Monday and this time they registered a 78-66 victory in the WCC Tournament championship at the Orleans Arena.

The Cougars made 60.4 percent of their shots while keeping GU standout duo Kayla Standish and Katelan Redmon in check. The two combined for just three second-half field goals and were 9 of 27 from the field. BYU earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga believes it'll make the tournament field, too, but it will have to wait until Monday to find out.

You can read my unedited story below. Chris Anderson's photos can be found here.

BYU 78, Gonzaga 66

Gonzaga's Haiden Palmer, right, and Shannon Reader, center, battle for a loose ball against BYU's Lexi Eaton in the first half during the NCAA West Coast Conference tournament championship basketball game, Monday  in Las Vegas. ESPN running boxscore here. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Championship Monday

It's championship Monday for the WCC men and women. It's the top two seeds squaring off in both title games.

We'll begin with the women, who tip at noon at the Orleans Arena. Here's my preview of No. 1 GU-vs.-No. 2 BYU and John Blanchette's column on Taelor Karr. More previews in the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and Kitsap Sun.

The No. 2 Gonzaga men take on No. 1 Saint Mary's tonight at 6. Here's my preview: and others in the San Francisco Chronicle,Contra Costa Times and Seattle Times, Is BYU in or out of the NCAA Tournament?

You can follow both title games with in-game updates at twitter.com/srjimm.

Business As Usual: Zags Vs. Gaels

For all the talk about the addition of traditional power BYU and the chatter about the West Coast Conference being the best it has been in a long time, the regular-season race still came down to Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. Just like it has the last eight seasons. The Gaels put an end to Gonzaga’s 11-year run of titles. For all the talk about four or five teams having legitimate shots at winning the WCC men’s basketball tournament title, it, too, will come down to Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. Just like it has the last four seasons. Both teams appear to be locks for the NCAA tournament and tonight’s winner at the Orleans Arena will earn an automatic berth. Gonzaga (25-5) and Saint Mary’s (26-5) split during the regular season, both winning by comfortable margins on their home floors/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (Christopher Anderson SR photo: Freshman guard Kevin Pangos scored 30 in Gonzaga’s semifinal victory over BYU)

Question: Any predictions about tonight's game?

Zags arriving in Vegas

Gonzaga fans are already filling up the lobbies, restaurants, casinos and seats at the Orleans. Later today, Gonzaga's men's and women's teams will arrive in Vegas as they await Saturday's semifinals.

Men's assistant coach Tommy Lloyd is already here. He was scouting the Thursday evening games, particularly San Diego's rout of Pepperdine. The Toreros earned a dat with third-seeded BYU tonight with GU awaiting the winner.

I ran into assistant coach Donny Daniels at the Spokane Airport yesterday at a morning hour neither of us should have been awake. He was heading over to Tacoma to watch the state basketball tournaments. It was the day after Sports Illustrated's article that portrayed UCLA basketball in disarray under the watch of coach Ben Howland. Daniels is mentioned in the story, as is ex-Bruins guard Matt Carlino now at BYU. Daniels declined my interview requiest. Carlino isn't saying much either.

The WCC is sharp when it comes using twitter/video/etc. and it has a thorough roundup of Thursday's games here. More on San Francisco's men's win here and here

We'll learn GU's semifinal matchups later — I'm heading over to the Arena for the Saint Mary's vs. Pepperdine women's game at noon, winner faces Gonzaga — and I'll post short previews here later.

GU men, women await WCC openers

It's the time of year where I have double duty, covering the GU men's and women's teams at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. So, I put together a short men's preview of the tournament that ran in Thursday's S-R and another for the women's team that will run Friday.

Here's a link to the men's article. Below, you can read an unedited version of the women's article.

UI battles, but falls to Nevada

Idaho gave Nevada fits for most of the game but the Wolf Pack pulled away with a 20-4 finishing kick and won 75-61 in the WAC women's tournament quarterfinals. It sounds like the Vandals will have a postseason opportunity in the Women's Basketball Invitational. They'll likely be on the road. An announcement could come by Monday.

Here's my game story.

Zags double up on WCC titles

Good morning from Las Vegas. One tourney down (WCC), one to go (WAC). We've got a ton of reading material from GU's men's and women's sweeps of Saint Mary's in the WCC title games.

Ladies first: Here's my game story, Chris Anderson's photos and a sidebar on the incomparable Courtney Vandersloot (pictured above). More from the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times and Seattle Times.

On the men's side, here's my gamer, Anderson's photos and John Blanchette's column. More in the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, A.P., and Seattle Times.

Gonzaga claims WCC title with win over SMC

Back with my game story and Chris Anderson's photos from Gonzaga's 75-63 victory over Saint Mary's on Monday night. GU earns the WCC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Zags will be making their 13th straight trip to the NCAAs.

Gonzaga men in WCC semifinal

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Gonzaga sets up a third showdown with Saint Mary’s, with a 71-67 win over San Francisco in the WCC men's tournament tonight. Jim Meehan's SportsLink story.

Gonzaga women advance to WCC final

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Gonzaga women defeat Portland 96-71 in the semifinal game of the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 6, 2011. The Zags won the game to advance to the Monday final.

WCC first day

The first day of the WCC tournaments had a little of everything.

On the women's side, No. 5 Santa Clara held off No. 8 San Francisco 62-58. SCU's Alyssa Shoji scored 18 points and Lena Gipson added 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Broncos face No. 4 Portland today at noon.

No. 7 San Diego thumped No. 6 Loyola Marymount 73-63 as Sam Child scored 19 points and Emily Hatch had 15 points and 13 boards. The Toreros meet No. 3 Pepperdine.

On the men's side, LMU made tourney history by becoming the first No. 8 seed to advance to the quarterfinals under the current format, which has been in effect since 2003, when it defeated No. 5 Portland 72-68. The last eight seed to win at the WCC tourney was LMU in 1997. LMU faces No. 4 Santa Clara tonight. More on LMU's win here.  

No. 6 Pepperdine made 36 of 44 free throws to edge No. 7 San Diego 84-81. The Waves will face No. 3 San Francisco in tonight's late game.

More on the openers here, here and here.

USD gives GU’s title hopes a boost

I deliberately waited to post my article that will run on Thursday's Four Corners page in the S-R. The topic was the importance of earning a No. 1 or No. 2 seed as it relates to WCC Tournament success.

Gonzaga entered the night with an outside shot at keeping its streak of 10 consecutive WCC regular-season titles going, but San Diego, tied with LMU for last in the conference, stunned Saint Mary's and Gaels' standout Rob Jones appeared to suffer a rib-cage injury..

Now, Gonzaga can earn at least a co-WCC title by winning its last four conference games. The Bulldogs have two important games this week when fourth-place Santa Clara and San Francisco, tied with GU for second, visit the MAC.

When San Diego pulled off its upset, I did a quick re-write and here's a link to the article that will run tomorrow.

By the way, I visited briefly with Robert Sacre prior to Tuesday's practice and he said he's feeling much better after battling illness last weekend. He took it easy on Sunday and Monday and judging by the effort he expended in the first 30 minutes of Tuesday's practice, he appears to be feeling much better. Steven Gray, who was under the weather on last week's road trip, also practiced hard during the first half hour of Tuesday's drills.

“I've got my energy back,” Sacre said.

More below.

Morning wrap

A number of links as Gonzaga’s women prepare to take on Santa Clara in WCC Tournament semifinals in about 25 minutes.

There are reports out of Oregon that Ernie Kent has already been fired, which will start the annual Mark-Few-to-Oregon conjecture. There’s several more articles on Kent’s situation here.

Here are the WCC men’s links: Portland bounced San Diego, and LMU eliminated USF.,

And the women’s links: Santa Clara continued to be the surprise of the tourney, beating Portland.

Back at half of the GU game for an update. 

Pargo leads GU into WCC championship

Back with the game story from Gonzaga’s convincing 94-59 win over Santa Clara. The unedited version is below.

UPDATE: No. 2 Saint Mary’s pulled away late for a 71-61 victory over No. 3 Portland. Patty Mills’ shot was a little rusty but the rest of his game looked pretty sharp, considering he was coming off a five-week absence due to a broken right hand.

 

GU women advance to WCC finals

Gonzaga’s women built a big first-half lead and held off several Loyola Marymount rallies to post a 74-63 win. The top-seeded Zags will meet No. 6 San Diego, which upset No. 2 Portland 74-64.

Read on for an unedited game story that will run in Sunday’s S-R. Check back later for a halftime update and the game story from the GU men’s semifinal game.

Meanwhile, here’s a column by John Blanchette on the WCC staging its tournaments in Las Vegas.

 

Top-seeded Zags await tourney opener

I filed a short advance of the WCC Tournament, which opens Friday in Las Vegas, that will run in tomorrow’s S-R. You can read the unedited version below.