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Grip on Sports: Yesterday was a huge day for Gonzaga, Spokane

Gonzaga Bulldog players walk through the crowd holding their cellphones to soak in the welcome by students and fans back to the Gonzaga campus late Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017 after the Bulldogs victory over Xavier to put the Spokane team in the Final Four next weekend. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldog players walk through the crowd holding their cellphones to soak in the welcome by students and fans back to the Gonzaga campus late Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017 after the Bulldogs victory over Xavier to put the Spokane team in the Final Four next weekend. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Was Saturday the biggest day in Spokane sports history? There are a lot of contenders, sure, but the small university by the river reaching the final weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament has to be a contender. Read on.

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• We’re not going to delve deeply here, mainly because there is so much to pass along from other sources, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time racking your brain about the 1970 Spokane Indians or whatever.

But, if you limit the parameters to events that directly affect entities contained within the city limits, then yesterday would be tough to top.

Especially for national exposure.

The NCAA tournament is probably second only to the Super Bowl in the national sporting consciousness, and, by stretching over three weekends, the longest lasting of the two.

So Gonzaga reaching the last weekend is a big deal. Maybe the biggest deal.

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Gonzaga: There are so many stories about yesterday’s 83-59 win over Xavier, we’re going to break this section into two parts. We start with The Spokesman-Review coverage. And that starts with beat writer Jim Meehan, who has the game story from San Jose as well as a deeper look at how Gonzaga was able to win. He also has stories on Nigel Williams-Goss improved offensive output and a strange play late involving Josh Perkins. … John Blanchette has been around the Gonzaga program since the days of Fitz and Jay Hillock and Dan Monson. And, of course, ever since Mark Few took the reins. John adds a historical perspective in his column. … Jacob Thorpe focused on Xavier, with a story on its strange late first-half basket as well as its sorrow, and on the Musketeers’ game plan. He also has a piece on West Region MOP Johnathan Williams. … Whitney Ogden stayed inside the arena with a story on Xavier’s J.P. Macura and ventures outside with the social media reaction to GU’s win. … I had my TV Take and there are keys to the game and key numbers as well. … On the visual side, Colin Mulvany and Dan Pelle covered every aspect of the contest in San Jose. … In Spokane, GU students gathered to watch the game and Michael Gulledge watched along with them. Kathy Plonka focused a lens on a couple watch parties around town. … When the Bulldogs arrived back on campus late last night, fans were there to great them. So was Josh Horton, with this story, and Jesse Tinsley, with these photographs. … Finally, from around here, is the news the S-R is publishing a book based on the season.

• If we only gave you the local pieces, that would be enough. But there is more, much more. National outlets, from Sports Illustrated to Fox Sports, took turns trying to put the Gonzaga win into perspective and to introduce America to its players. … There is regional coverage as well, from Larry Stone’s column in the Seattle Times to game and legacy coverage from the Bay Area newspapers. But my favorite thing of all is this cellphone video of Few getting another assist from Przemek Karnowski.

WSU: The Washington State women are still playing but will face a tough task against host Iowa today in the WNIT. The Cougars have posted three consecutive WNIT wins. … The baseball team swept Cal State Northridge in a home doubleheader. … Around the Pac-12, Oregon kept its season alive with a 74-60 upset of top-seeded Kansas in the Midwest Region. The Ducks’ Tyler Ennis and Dillon Brooks shot down the Jayhawks in Kansas City. … Former Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves became the first women’s coach to lead two double-digit seeds to the Elite Eight when Oregon upset Maryland 77-63. … An old face will join Mike Hopkins’ new coaching staff at Washington. … California’s players are happy with the new head coach. … Steve Alford said he wasn’t going to Indiana and he isn’t. The Hoosiers hired Sean Miller’s brother Archie. … The Bruins’ season and future success may depend on the Ball family. … Allonzo Trier was in the middle of Arizona’s success this season. … On the football front, USC scrimmaged yesterday.

Preps: A couple of Coeur d’Alene grads led Lewis-Clark State to a second-place finish in the NAIA women’s national basketball tournament.

Mariners: The M’s received great pitching from lefty Dillon Overton in a 3-1 win over the Rangers. … After the game another lefty, Ariel Miranda was demoted to Tacoma. … James Paxton pitched in a minor league game. … There is an illness making its way through camp.

Sounders: Seattle gave up a late goal and drew a friendly 1-1 at CenturyLink. … Real Salt Lake and New York played a scoreless draw.

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• Things may just slow down a bit early this week. But I do know quite a few people who are busy scrambling to get to Phoenix next weekend. And it isn’t cheap. Until later …

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