Around The WCC: 1/11-1/18 edition

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The following order is based on current spot in the conference.

St. Mary's (17-1; 4-0): After struggling a little in their opening weekend of conference play, St. Mary's finally played like a top 25 team against the lowly duo of LMU and Pepperdine. It's hard to determine how good St. Mary's really is when they are playing LMU and Pepperdine, but you have to give them credit for taking care of business in impressive fashion. The Gaels opened the week with a dominant 78-53 victory over LMU. Omar Samhan led the way with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Patty Mills (11) and Diamon Simpson (14) each scored in double figures as well. St. Mary's continued their great play against Pepperdine, as they coasted to a 96-46 victory. Diamon Simpson put together a terrific performance with 24 points. The Gaels have now won 14 straight games, but will be tested by USD and Gonzaga in the next two games.

Schedule This Week: 1/22 @ USD

San Diego (12-7; 4-0): It sure looks like Billy Grier has this team playing with a ton of confidence and grit. The Toreros continued their undefeated start in conference play with a sweep of LMU and Pepperdine. USD kicked off the week with a solid 62-47 victory over Pepperdine. Trumaine Johnson scored 16 points to lead the Toreros, and Gyno Pomare added 14 points of his own. Pomare continued his solid play against LMU, as he scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the 70-59 victory. The Toreros certainly aren't dominating games the way St. Mary's and Gonzaga are, but they are still finding ways to win. We will see how good this team is when they host St.Mary's on Thursday.

Schedule This Week: 1/22 vs.St. Mary's

Portland (11-7; 2-1): I'm starting to think that this Portland team is ready to challenge USD for third place in the WCC (thanks a lot Santa Clara). The Pilots showed great moxie as they bounced back from their opening loss to Gonzaga to sweep USF and Santa Clara. Portland opened the week with a strong 78-60 victory over USF. Jared Stohl came off the bench to score 33 points, including 9 threes. T.J Campbell added 13 points and 6 assists for the Pilots. In a win that could be the springboard for a great WCC season, Portland snuck by Santa Clara by a score of 53-52. It seemed like Portland was on their way to an easy victory when they jumped out to a 43-26 lead in the second half. However, Santa Clara made a furious rally, and the Pilots were only able to escape thanks to clutch free-throw shooting from Nik Raivio. Raivio led the way with 16 points and 9 rebounds in the win.

Schedule This Week: 1/22 @ LMU ; 1/24 @ Pepperdine

Pepperdine (4-15; 1-2): Like I said last week, don't read anything into Pepperdine winning their opening game in conference play. This is one of the worst teams in the country, and they showed it as they were swept by San Diego (62-47) and St. Mary's (96-46). The lone piece of good news for the Waves is the play of Mychal Thompson. It appears that he has finally found some sort of groove, as he scored 15 points in the loss to San Diego and 11 in the loss to St. Mary's. It might not seem like much, but Thompson is the type of guy that Tom Asbury can build this program around, and it's vital that he plays with confidence. Pepperdine fans also have to be excited about the play of freshman Keion Bell. While he continues to be inconsistent, Bell showed his great potential as he scored 20 points and grabbed 7 boards in the loss to St. Mary's.

Schedule This Week: 1/22 vs. Gonzaga; 1/24 vs Portland

LMU (1-18; 0-3): There really is now way to sugarcoat a 1-18 record. However, it's nice to see that LMU is playing hard under new coach Max Good. It's obivously a very difficult situation with the coaching change, but Good has these kids playing hard. Jared DuBois is playing like the best freshman in the conference, and he continued his great play this week. In the 78-53 loss to St. Mary's, DuBois led the way for the Lions with 17 points. DuBois and fellow freshman LaRon Armstead form a nice combo for the struggling Lions. In the 70-59 loss to USD, Armstead scored 25 points for LMU, while Armstead was the only other player to score in double-figures (11points). If Max Good can get some decent talent around these two guys, LMU could be competitive in the near future.

Schedule This Week: 1/22 vs Portland; 1/24 vs Gonzaga

USF (8-11; 0-4): I have to believe that Rex Walters and his Dons were expecting to steal one game on their trip to the Pacific Northwest. However, as has been the case all season, USF got terrific play from Dior Lowhorn, and marginal play from everyone else. In their 78-60 defeat against Portland, Lowhorn scored 22 points and grabbed 5 boards, but the only other Don to score in double-figures was Peter Smith. It was the same case in the 85-51 defeat to Gonzaga, as Lowhorn scored 15 points, but only Blake Wallace was able to reach double-digits. This team could be competitive in the WCC if they could find any consistent contributors around Lowhorn. I really hope Rex Walters has some good talent coming in next season, because it's a shame to see a player like Lowhorn being wasted.

Schedule This Week: 1/23 @ Santa Clara

Santa Clara (7-13; 0-4): It sure appears that I was totally wrong in my prediction about Santa Clara. Unless the mentality changes, this team will continue to struggle the rest of the season. The Broncos opened the week with a demoralizing 95-53 loss to Gonzaga. John Bryant had a dismal performance, as he scored only 12 points in the defeat. There were a couple of times where I honestly thought that Kerry Keating might pull his team off the court. The Broncos followed up the loss to Gonzaga with a heart-breaking 53-52 setback against Portland. The Broncos have made a habit of losing close games like this. While John Bryant managed to score 15 points and grab 22 rebounds, Santa Clara couldn't overcome a 17 point second half deficit.

Schedule This Week: 1/23 vs. USF; 1/25 vs. Houston Baptist

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