The area Division I teams broke even on Thursday. The big, but not not surprising news is that No. 25 Gonzaga clinched a tie for its seventh-straight WCC title. The most important news is Eastern Washington finished strong to inch closer to a Big Sky tournament berth. Washington State and Idaho lost, but both those teams are going to be in league tournaments. Read on.
Gonzaga put four starters in double figures, led by what is now the usual monster game by point guard Courtney Vandersloot, to coast past Santa Clara. The Bulldogs have a three-game lead on Saint Mary's with three to play. The clincher could come at San Francisco, which lost to Portland although Tara Cronin (G-Prep) had a tough game shooting but a great game on the boards, on Saturday.
Eastern scored the last nine points to turn back Northern Arizona, which was hot on the Eagles' heels for the sixth and final tourney berth in the nine-team league. (By the way, the Eags were pretty in pink.) Chene Cooper was the catalyst. EWU faces another important game Saturday when Weber State, which lost to Portland State, visits. The Wildcats are out of it but EWU can't give away wins with the finishing schedule that awaits.
Washington State, despite a solid game from freshman Sage Romberg, couldn't keep pace with Arizona in the last 10 minutes. Next up is Arizona State on Saturday. The Sun Devils turned back the Huskies on Thursday.
Idaho, except for a big game from Yinka Olorunnife, got killed on the boards but just edged on the scoreboard by Nevada. Check out the records. The Wolfpack was having a best-ever start to the season before opening league play at home with a loss to the Vandals. It's Senior Day for the Vandals on Saturday when Utah State visits.