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Monday, October 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: If you like upsets, the WCC tournament has been almost perfect thus far

Pepperdine guard Colbey Ross  defends Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr. during the first half  Feb. 21  in Spokane. (Young Kwak / AP)
Pepperdine guard Colbey Ross defends Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr. during the first half Feb. 21 in Spokane. (Young Kwak / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • If you decided not to worry about the West Coast Conference tournament until it was Gonzaga’s turn to play, you’ve missed a lot. How much? How about the two semifinalists not getting byes turning out to be the seventh and eighth seeds? Read on.

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• Top-seeded Gonzaga received a double-bye to the WCC semifinals. So did second-seeded Saint Mary’s. Their opponents? For the Zags, that would be Pepperdine, who has played three games in the tournament already and won them all.

Lorenzo Romar’s first team in his second stint in Malibu started slowly. Its 7-7 nonconference record included losses to Northern Colorado, Cal State Northridge, Southern Utah and UC Riverside. The Waves won just two road games all season. And they were 2-6 down the stretch in WCC play.

Then they arrived at Las Vegas. The first game Thursday night was a rematch with Pacific, a school that had defeated Pepperdine in Malibu five days before. Not this time. The Waves won 61-53. 

Next up was rival Loyola Marymount, which had won the final regular season meeting between the schools. Not this time. The Waves won 68-65.

Last night, San Francisco came in as the prohibitive favorite, owning two wins over Romar’s team already. Not this time. The Waves won in a rout, 89-72.

Three nights. Three upsets. And now the No. 1 team in the nation.

My guess is Romar is a bit sad to have the Sunday break. Momentum and all that.

The school for which the WCC takes today off, BYU, isn’t involved in the tournament anymore either. The third-seeded Cougars didn’t show up late last night against San Diego. At least their offense didn’t. The Toreros led 46-18 at the half and rolled to an 80-57 upset.

BYU, which has lived and died by the 3-pointer as much as anyone all year, killed itself from beyond the arc, hitting just 1-of-17 attempts.

And San Diego, like Pepperdine, won its third game in as many nights.

Let’s hope you didn’t miss it.

• You may not want to miss the Pac-12 tournament either. As last night’s results showed, anyone could win it.

Heck, top-seed Washington, which won the conference regular-season title by three games, finished by losing three of its final eight games. Included in that total is a loss at last-place California and an eight-point loss at home to Oregon last night.

That’s not what you would call riding a wave of momentum heading into Las Vegas.

But who is hot? The Ducks might qualify in that regard. They have won four consecutive games and have held each of their opponents in that stretch under their season scoring average. Dana Altman’s scrambling defense is finally showing up.

Oregon will open late Wednesday night against the Cougars in a rematch of last Wednesday’s game in Pullman. The Ducks won that won, 72-61.

•••

Gonzaga: No, there are no games to cover. Not yet. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a whole heck of a lot of stories to pass along. S-R editor Rob Curley is in Las Vegas and he was at Adam Morrison’s induction ceremony into the WCC’s Hall of Honor. … He also has two stories concerning the Zags’ travel arrangements and their use of chartered planes to get from here to there, wherever “there” may be. … Also, if you are in Vegas, we have this story on some things to do there. … In basketball news, both Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are among the 15 finalists for the Wooden Award. Jim Meehan has that story. … Jim Allen recaps this regular season for the women and makes a case it was the best in school history. … Around the WCC, BYU’s defeat, and how bad it was, may have cost the Cougars any type of postseason – unless they want to pay for it.

WSU: The Cougars said goodbye to Robert Franks yesterday and in a sadly typical fashion, it came in another loss, this one to Oregon State. Franks has improved as much as any Washington State player in recent memory and leaves Pullman following one of the most prolific scoring seasons ever. Theo Lawson was there and has this story. … Former Cougar baseball great John Olerud will be honored by the Pac-12 this week, entering its Hall of Honor. It’s about darn time. Olerud posted the best college baseball season ever in 1988, posting Babe Ruth-like numbers (15-0 on the mound with 23 home runs while hitting better than .400). … Around the Pac-12, the loss to Oregon spoiled Senior Night for Washington. The Huskies honored a group that turned the program around. … Utah is headed to Vegas with a lot of confidence. The Utes defeated UCLA at home. … Colorado is confident as well after handing USC another loss. … Arizona State swept Arizona this season, which isn’t all that typical. And the speech Sean Miller gave after the game to the Senior Night crowd in Tucson? It wasn’t typical either. … Yes, there is some football news from Utah, UCLA and USC. Quarterbacks figure prominently. … Just what is the "transfer portal" anyway?

EWU: The Eagles finished the regular season with another win, holding off host Weber State 80-77. … Around the Big Sky, the tournament seeding is set, with Montana getting the top seed again. … Northern Colorado dropped is regular season finale at home to Northern Arizona. … Portland State held off Montana State.

Idaho: The Vandals had a 16-point lead in the second half last night at Idaho State and somehow lost 70-68. … Even though the Vandal women lost at home last night to the Bengals, they still secured the top seed in the Big Sky tournament.

Whitworth: The Pirates swept a baseball doubleheader at Pacific.

Chiefs: Spokane picked up another win last night, defeating Victoria 6-1. Kevin Dudley was in the Arena and explains why the victory was twice as important.

Mariners: The M's officially announced who is going to pitch the opener in Japan and it isn't Felix Hernandez. It's Marco Gonzales. … The M's lost 2-0 yesterday.

Sounders: For the first time since 2012, Seattle is 2-0 to start the MLS season. The Sounders defeated Colorado 2-0 last night at home.

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• Yep, today is the first day of daylight saving time. It was hard to get up early enough to get this done. One nice thing, though. Most clocks fix themselves these days. And it should be light until after 7 tonight. Until later …

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