West Coast Walkthrough: Jan 16, "Cream is Rising" Edition

We are a mere five (or six, depending on the team) games into WCC play, and the predicted cream of the conference has already risen to the top. Saint Mary's, who has held serve at home against BYU and Gonzaga, sits on top. The Bulldogs and Cougars have one loss, and the only two-loss team is Loyola Marymount, who has already lost at home to the two teams directly ahead of it in conference play. We re-live the week that was, look ahead to the coming week, and rank the performances of each WCC team in this week's edition of the West Coast Walkthrough.

AUSSIE ASSASSIN LIGHTS UP GONZAGA

Thursday's game of the week was a great showcase, especially for Saint Mary's. With Gonzaga having made several strong appearances on national TV, the Gaels took their opportunity Thursday and drove it home with an 83-62 win. The first half was a back-and-forth battle full of missed shots and a few extra turnovers (on Gonzaga's part), as the electricity of intimate McKeon Pavilion charged through both teams. But Matthew Dellavedova began to put his mark on the game. With SMC up 31-29 and three minutes to go in the first half, the Australian sharpshooter knocked down a three pointer, found Brad Waldow open at the hoop for a layup, and converted a free throw to give Saint Mary's a 37-29 halftime lead.

The Gaels would score 24 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, 16 of which came from layups and free throws. Gonzaga would try to fight back, but Dellavedova knocked down two three-pointers down the stretch to keep the Saint Mary's lead at 17.

Dellavedova finished 10-16 from the field, including 5-10 from deep, to score 26 points. Waldow added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Rob Jones was nearly-silent in the scoring column, but pulled down 11 rebounds and had 8 assists. Elias Harris had a strong game for the Zags with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but Robert Sacre was nearly absent on the night. The big man played only 18 minutes despite having only one foul, went 1-7 from the field for 4 points, and had three rebounds.

SMC, BYU, GONZAGA SETTING UP THREE-TEAM, SIX-GAME ROUND ROBIN

After the beatdown in Moraga, Gonzaga re-grouped for a tough road win at Loyola Marymount on Saturday. The Lions held a two-point halftime lead, but Gonzaga opened the second half with a 9-0 run, capped by a Kevin Pangos three-pointer, to set the tone for the rest of the game. A cutting layup by Elias Harris in the closing seconds secured Gonzaga's victory.

While the Lions are sitting in a good spot despite their losses to BYU and Gonzaga at home, the expected three-team race is setting up maybe a touch earlier than you might have expected. All this sets up a six-game round robin between the three schools that will likely decide the conference champion, as each seems prepared to handle the rest of the conference.

Interestingly, the six games have set up in home pairings -- Saint Mary's hosted BYU and Gonzaga first, held serve, and is 2-0. BYU is the next host, with SMC coming to town on January 28th and Gonzaga shortly after on February 2nd. Then, Gonzaga plays host last, with SMC on 2/9 and BYU on 2/23.

NOW PLAYING

Last week it was Saint Mary's, this week it is BYU. With BYU's inclusion in the WCC, the schedule got twisted a bit, and this week it is the Cougars' turn to play three games. Tonight, Dave Rose's boys travel to San Diego to face the Toreros in Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Thursday's slate will likely result in a lot of chalk -- the best team in each pairing is also the home team. Saint Mary's hosts a nose-diving Pepperdine squad, Gonzaga gets San Francisco, BYU gets LMU, and Portland hosts San Diego. Saturday's matchups produce something similar.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Loyola Marymount @ BYU - Thurs. Jan 19, 6:30 pm MT - BYUtv. With none of the big three matching up against each other, the Lions have been the team that has shown the most fortitude in battling the top tier of the conference.

POWER RANKINGS

1. SAINT MARY'S -- At this juncture, the #1 spot is clear. The Gaels absolutely torched both BYU and Gonzaga at home, and Dellavedova is a gamebreaker. The two losses SMC has suffered came at the hands of two teams with a combined 31-4 record. Now on top, the Gaels must leave McKeon Pavilion and claim some wins on the road.

2. GONZAGA -- The Bulldogs still come in at #2, but the margin between Gonzaga and BYU is narrowing. The Cougars looked exposed at SMC and it appeared to be a moment of "Hey, newcomer, why don't you take a seat over there and think about what you can learn from this." But Gonzaga got roasted there, too, and it almost seemed like Sacre, who could otherwise be their best player, was considered a liability by Mark Few. Still, no shame in losing to the Gaels in their house. Saint Mary's has defeated good teams like Missouri State, Weber State, BYU, and Gonzaga all at home by an average of 17 points each.

3. BYU -- Our Cougars had a restful week, playing just the one game on Saturday. After a well-played first half, BYU ran away with the game in the second half as Matt Carlino posted 21 points and 8 assists. Teams in the WCC still haven't figured out how to stop Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies in the post (SMC didn't either, they just flat outscored BYU) -- the duo combined for 44 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday.

4. LOYOLA MARYMOUNT -- It's already been explained, but the Lions are 3-2 in conference and gave BYU and Gonzaga everything they wanted. Drew Viney and Anthony Ireland are a good 1-2 scoring combo in Los Angeles.

5. SAN FRANCISCO -- After a poor conference start, the Dons are coming on, and I expect them to continue climbing up the standings. After beating Portland by 34, I can't very well put the Dons behind the Pilots.

6. PORTLAND -- The Pilots are riding the wave of a 2-1 start, but it won't last long if they can't sustain it. Another game with San Diego this week will help shape the bottom of these rankings for the future.

7. SAN DIEGO -- Bill Grier's squad lost to Saint Mary's at home only by 6, and just beat Santa Clara to pick up its first conference win.

8. PEPPERDINE -- The only thing saving the Waves from the bottom rung of the WCC ladder is a conference-opening home win against San Francisco. Lost all 4 since.

9. SANTA CLARA -- Santa Clara's humble non-conference start, which wasn't shabby, seems like a long time ago. The Broncos are 0-4, and their closest game of the four was a 10-point loss to Portland.

STANDINGS AND STAT LEADERS

School

Conf

Overall

RPI (+/-)

#24 Saint Mary’s

6-0

17-2

23 (+11)

Gonzaga

4-1

14-3

8 (0)

BYU

4-1

15-4

42 (-3)

Loyola Marymount

3-2

10-8

141 (+20)

Portland

2-3

5-13

162 (-20)

San Francisco

2-4

12-8

178 (+41)

San Diego

1-3

6-10

245 (-57)

Pepperdine

1-5

7-10

243 (-33)

Santa Clara

0-4

8-9

224 (-36)

POINTS

PLAYER

SCHOOL

PPG

Kevin Foster

Santa Clara

17.5

Noah Hartsock

BYU

17.3

Matthew Dellavedova

St Mary’s

15.4

Johnny Dee

San Diego

15.2

Anthony Ireland

LMU

14.7

REBOUNDS

PLAYER

SCHOOL

RPG

Rob Jones

St Mary’s

10.5

Corbin Moore

Pepperdine

8.2

Brandon Davies

BYU

7.9

Elias Harris

Gonzaga

7.7

Ryan Nicholas

Portland

7.4

ASSISTS

PLAYER

SCHOOL

APG

Matthew Dellavedova

St Mary’s

6.6

Evan Roquemore

Santa Clara

5.4

Anthony Ireland

LMU

5.2

Chris Anderson

San Diego

4.6

Caleb Willis

Pepperdine

3.9

BLOCKS

PLAYER

SCHOOL

BPG

Noah Hartsock

BYU

1.7

Robert Sacre

Gonzaga

1.5

Brandon Davies

BYU

1.2

Corbin Moore

Pepperdine

1.2

Taylor Darby

Pepperdine

1.1

STEALS

PLAYER

SCHOOL

SPG

Stephen Holt

St Mary’s

2.1

Rob Jones

St Mary’s

1.8

Angelo Caloiaro

San Fran

1.8

Chris Anderson

San Diego

1.6

Anthony Ireland

LMU

1.6

FREE THROW %

PLAYER

SCHOOL

FT%

Jorden Page

St Mary’s

92.7

LaRon Armstead

LMU

87.5

Matthew Dellavedova

St Mary’s

85.1

Kevin Pangos

Gonzaga

84.5

Evan Roquemore

Santa Clara

83.3

THREE POINT %

PLAYER

SCHOOL

3PT%

Brock Zylstra

BYU

44.2

Johnny Dee

San Diego

43.6

Charles Abouo

BYU

43.1

Clint Steindl

St Mary’s

43.0

Gary Bell

Gonzaga

42.4

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