A GRIP ON SPORTS • When there are four Division I basketball teams in one geographical area, it’s pretty common to have a night filled with ups and downs. It’s just the stark nature of Thursday that was a bit surprising. Read on.
• If you are keeping score at home, there were two road blowouts, a tight road win and a home ho-hummer amongst our four schools. In the win-loss ledger, mark two on either side.
Fifth-ranked Gonzaga’s 93-55 rout of Loyola-Marymount was the most dominating, at least the most dominating in the 509 area code. Stanford’s 84-54 walloping of visiting Washington State rivaled it, though the Cardinal out-of-character sharp-shooting explained a lot of the 30-point margin.
The Bulldogs were just that much better than Loyola, and it showed. I’m not at all sure Stanford is 30 points better than WSU, though it certainly was last night.
Our two local Big Sky schools were on the road and, in keeping with the night’s theme, had decidedly different results.
Eastern was able to get past Idaho State when the Bengals were able to keep the Holt Arena’s roof from leaking and get the game in. Jacob Wiley is probably pretty thankful after scoring his 27 points and leading Eastern Washington to a 92-85 victory.
The other end of the spectrum is occupied by the Vandals. Idaho’s season has been submarined by injuries, sure, but last night’s 91-66 defeat may have been the crusher.
Weber State is good – undefeated after three Big Sky games – and is really good at home. But the Vandals allowed Weber to shoot 58 percent from beyond the arc. That’s good shooting, sure, but also poor defense.
Add it up and the Inland Northwest was 2-2, which isn’t good. Or bad.
• So what happens the rest of the weekend?
Undefeated Gonzaga has its showdown with 21st-ranked Saint Mary’s on Saturday night. Eastern has a showdown as well, traveling to Ogden in an attempt to hang the first loss on Weber’s conference record.
Idaho and Washington State will try to bounce back. The Vandals have the best chance, facing an Idaho State team that is just 2-13 this season. Washington State has a tougher task Saturday afternoon when they play 12-5 California.
Gonzaga: If you thought there couldn’t be more GU coverage in the S-R, you were wrong. Heck, even editor Rob Curley got involved last night with this story on long-time athletic director Mike Roth. … There’s more of course. There always is. Jim Meehan has his game story, which also includes links to five postgame interviews. Jim also has a story on the Portland game being rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 23, two nights after the Pilots play in Spokane, and the three keys to the victory. … John Blanchette has a column, which looks forward to Saturday’s game with Saint Mary’s. … Whitney Ogden has a piece on Przemek Karnowski’s comeback while Michael Gulledge covers Loyola-Marymount’s up-and-down day from beyond the arc. … Colin Mulvany has his in-depth photo report. … Finally, I watched from home and have a look at the broadcast. Dan Dickau mentioned the lack of energy in the building, something I’ve written about before. Last night was as bad as it’s been all season. I suspect it won’t be like that Saturday. … The Gonzaga women were in Los Angeles and rode Jill Barta’s 22 points to a 80-56 win over the Lions. … Elsewhere in the WCC last night, the Gaels prepped for the showdown by holding Portland to its season-low offensive output, and the second-lowest total in a college game this season. … Eric Mika’s 31 points and 12 rebounds led BYU past visiting USF in Dave Rose’s 400th game as Brigham Young’s coach. … Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge hit a late shot to lift the Broncos past host USD. … Pacific got past visiting Pepperdine 79-74.
WSU: Stanford was struggling. Until the Cougars took the court. It was 16-3 before the fans settled in. Jacob Thorpe has his game story on the rout as well as Ernie Kent’s thoughts on the loss to the Cardinal. … There was a couple more Pac-12 routs last night, with Utah pounding 25th-ranked USC 86-64 in Salt Lake City and Arizona winning over Arizona State 91-75 in Tucson. There was also a gesture made in the desert rivalry game, which might take some of us back to Dick Bennett’s stint at WSU. … UCLA hit a school-record number of 3-pointers and put up 104 points in Boulder. The Bruins did give up 89 to Colorado. … California held off Washington 69-59 at Haas Pavilion. … Oregon State is struggling headed into the Civil War. … There was also some football news yesterday as well, with California seemingly settling on Justin Wilcox, a defensive coordinator, as its next head coach. … The NFL draft will hit the Pac-12 hard next season. … Oregon's media policies are under scrutiny.
EWU: The Eagles' road victory sets up another big game Saturday at Weber. … The Eagle women won at home over the Bengals. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana had little trouble with Northern Colorado, winning 89-68. … North Dakota handed Montana State its third consecutive defeat. … Southern Utah's first home conference game ended badly.
Seahawks: There is one memory from the last playoff game in Atlanta that Pete Carroll doesn’t want to revisit. … Paul Richardson does a lot more than just go deep. … The offensive line has turned more corners this season than an ice-cream man. … Devin Hester was a Falcon not too long ago. … Which team has the advantage? … C.J. Prosise is still a game-time decision. … A slow start could doom the Hawks.
Sounders: The 2017 schedule is out and the defending MLS champions – that has a nice ring to it – has their work cut out for them.
• It was a long morning, interrupted often by a dog who isn’t feeling well. I thought after my boys grew into men such things were over. At least until they dropped off the grandkids, of which there are exactly zero. Guess not. Until later …
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