Strength of schedule aside, it is nice to see three WCC teams with 8-2 records, along with upstart USD’s surprising 7-2 record. While the quality of opponents is still not quite where many Zags fans would like it to be, it is nice to see the conference winning games. Heading into finals week for many of the WCC schools, let’s take a look at how the teams did last week:
The Cougars of BYU earned another pair of victories last week, keeping them in a three-way tie with the Zags and SMC at an 8-2 record. BYU got off to a huge start against Illinois State at home last week, leading 39-17 at half before eventually coasting to an 80-68 victory. T.J. Haws had 20 and Elijah Bryant nearly had a triple-double, scoring 17 and adding nine rebounds and nine assists.
The Cougars then hosted in-state opponent Weber State. BYU has now played all the D1 teams in Utah except University of Utah, who they play Saturday. Their only true non-conference road game outside of Utah was at Princeton. Another season without much challenge in the non-conference.
BYU weathered the storm against Weber St, winning 74-68. Haws had 24.
BYU will host Utah at 8:00 PM on Saturday on ESPN2. Could be a good chance for Zags fans to see what the Cougars will bring to the table before they match up in the regular season. Their first game will be February 3rd in Spokane.
Loyola Marymount (5-4)
LMU went 1-1 over the last week, losing to tough Big Sky opponent Portland State before cruising to an easy 74-57 win over Cal-State Northridge. The Lions lost 94-85 against the Vikings of Portland State. Former Zag Ryan Edwards had a tough game, scoring one point on 0-5 shooting in only 11 minutes of action. Junior college transfer James Batemon had 26 for LMU.
The Lions rebounded for a big win over the 1-8 Matadors of Cal-State Northridge. Batemon had 25. Freshmen forward Eli Scott chipped in 20 off the bench.
LMU will have a break this week before squaring off at Gonzaga’s other home, the University of Washington, on Sunday.
Pacific was able to crawl over .500 two weeks ago with a three-game win streak, but saw that come crashing down with two losses last week to put them at 5-6. First, the Tigers dropped a close one to local rival UC-Davis, 71-67. JuCo transfer guard Roberto Gallinat had 19.
Pacific then hit the road to face off against the 7-3 Cowboys of Wyoming. The Tigers hung around in the first half before falling 86-72. Junior guard transfer Miles Reynolds had 21 points in just 22 minutes for the Tigers.
Pacific will take on UNLV on Saturday for their only game of the week. They’ll then face No. 1 Arizona State on December 22nd before opening up league play against the Zags on 12/28.
Pepperdine took on a pair of Big West teams last week, going 1-1 to bring them to an ugly 3-7 record on the year. The Waves defeated the 2-6 Highlanders of UC-Riverside 70-59. They were up 15 at halftime before ugly shooting in the second half brought Riverside back in the game. Sophomore big man Nolan Taylor paced the Waves with 17.
Pepperdine hosted the 5-7 49ers of Long Beach State, coached by former Gonzaga coach Don Monson. The Waves lost 78-71. Long Beach was led by former Zag Bryan Alberts, who hit six three-pointers en route to 20 points. Freshman Trae Berhow had 15 for the Waves.
Pepperdine just played their first game with junior transfer Eric Cooper jr. Cooper transferred from Nevada, where he averaged 9.3 points in 2015-2016 before sitting out last year. He had 14 against Long Beach. Perhaps Cooper will inject some life into this Pepperdine offense.
Pepperdine will take the week off before hitting the road to face Belmont on Saturday.
Portland hosted Cal-State Fullerton early last week, losing 76-66. After a close first half, the Titans were able to pull away in the second. The Pilots shot a pathetic 5-24 from downtown. Senior center Phil Hartwich had 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for UP.
The Pilots then hosted the Spartans of San Jose State, defeating them 64-55. UP had four in double figures, led by JuCo transfer Josh McSwiggan’s 14.
The Pilots will head up I-5 to play WAC opponent Seattle University on Saturday.
Saint Mary’s (8-2)
The Gaels earned themselves a couple of wins last week against teams they have no business scheduling non-conference. First, they hosted the 1-7 Sacramento State Hornets and beat them 70-54. Jock Landale had a monstrous game, pouring in 37 points and grabbing 18 rebounds over Sac State’s 6’7 senior center Justin Strings.
The Gaels stayed at home and hosted SeattleU on Saturday, earning an easy 97-73 victory over the Redhawks. Landale had 20 and 10, this time having to work against the 7’2 Aaron Menzies. Sophomore guard Tanner Krebs had 23 for the Gaels, sinking five three-pointers.
The cakewalk continues as SMC will take the week off before hosting the 4-8 Anteaters of UC-Irvine on Saturday.
Santa Clara (3-6)
Santa Clara lost their one game last week in heartbreaking fashion, 87-84 against Portland State. Santa Clara was up 11 at halftime before Portland State hit 16 field goals in a row to storm back and win. Long Beach St. transfer Deontae North had 30 for the Vikings. Junior KJ Feagin had 24 for the Broncos and junior Matt Hauser had 22 on six made threes.
Santa Clara will hit the road and face No. 25 ranked USC on Thursday at 7:00 PM on the PAC-12 network.
University of San Diego (7-2)
The Toreros of USD continued their hot start to the season, beating WAC powerhouse New Mexico State and rolling over Northern Arizona.
USD held the Aggies to 4-23 shooting from downtown in their 65-60 victory. Isaiah Pineiro had 23 and Isaiah Wright added 17. USD has now defeated both Grand Canyon and New Mexico State, the two favorites in the WAC this season.
San Diego then jumped all over Northern Arizona en route to a 79-51 victory. Senior Cameron Neubauer had 17 and Pineiro added 16.
The Toreros have a big test on Tuesday. They will hit the road against PAC-12 opponent Colorado. The game is at 5:00 PM and will be televised on the PAC-12 network. If USD pulls the upset, they will be 8-2 along with the Zags, BYU and SMC (with arguably a more difficult non-conference schedule than BYU, and maybe even SMC).
USD will then face North Texas on Saturday to round out the week.
University of San Francisco (5-3)
USF was able to rebound after a tough loss to then No. 20 Arizona State. They won both their games last week, first against Central Arkansas and again vs. Big Sky foe Eastern Washington. Sophomore forward Jordan Ratinho had 17 against the Bears, and junior guard and all-name team captain Frankie Ferrari had 15.
The Dons jumped out to a huge lead against the Eagles of Eastern Washington, leading 45-24 at half. Eastern came back in the second half to make it a respectable 81-71 game. USF had four players in double figures, led by junior big man Matt Mccarthy’s 17. Freshmen Souley Boum had 16 off the bench, including sinking 12-13 free throws.
San Francisco has a nice little break, not facing anyone until UC-Davis on Friday the 15th. From there they will drive down the road a bit to face Stanford on Sunday.