Friday night marked the tip-off of the opening round of the West Coast Conference Tournament held at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The bottom four teams in the WCC standings squared off, and the two lowest seeds won the right to advance and play Gonzaga and St. Mary’s on Saturday.
Here’s how it went down:
#9 Pacific Tigers beat #8 Pepperdine Waves 89-84
The opening game of the men’s tournament was an entertaining one, as both teams shot lights out (Pacific 53.3% FG, Pepperdine 48.8% FG). Pacific’s 89-point tally was its highest scoring output against Division I opposition (Pacific scored 102 against DII NAIA Pacific Union) this season. Junior guard Ray Bowles finished the night with a career high 26 points thanks to an aggressive game which took him to the charity stripe for 12 attempts. In total, five Pacific players scored in double figures to help the Tigers outlast the Waves.
Pepperdine senior and friend of Drake, Lamond Murray Jr., put on a show with a career high performance of his own, scoring 41 points (13-26 FG) and grabbing 10 rebounds in what would be the final game of his collegiate career. Murray’s 41 points were the second highest total ever by any WCC player in the WCC tournament. Murray was joined in double figures by fellow senior and Pepperdine’s all-time career assist leader Jeremy Major, who finished with 18 points and 7 assists.
The game itself was a see-saw affair with the teams exchanging leads (19 times total) throughout the evening. Neither team was able to pull away for more than a 5-point lead at any point until Pacific did so with just under two minutes left in the game.
For the Tigers, the win earned them the rare chance to play on national television against Gonzaga on Saturday night (7pm PT, ESPN2), while Pepperdine can put an injury-riddled 9-win season behind it and return to Malibu to enjoy the sweet, sweet views of the Pacific Ocean.
#10 Portland Pilots beat #7 San Diego Toreros 60-55
The second contest of the evening did not feature the offensive fireworks of the earlier game. However, the Pilots did manage to get their first conference win since December 31 (stunning), though whether that can be attributed to their strong defensive effort or San Diego’s suboptimal offense is hard to say. Regardless, Portland’s first WCC win of 2017 means they get to play at least one more day with a late night tip-off against the Gaels set for Saturday.
Jazz Johnson led the Portland offense with 17 points (5-12 FG), while San Diego’s Brett Bailey led all scorers with 19 points to close out his own collegiate career.
The game was certainly a contrast in styles, with San Diego rifling off 33 attempts from the arc (11-33) in comparison to Portland’s eight from long distance (4-8). Despite the disparity in three-pointers, the Pilots made up for it with consistent penetration into the paint which allowed them to get to the charity stripe with frequency. It was at the line where the Pilots made up its disparity with USD, shooting 16-22 from the free throw line compared to just 6-9 for the Toreros.
Saturday will feature a full slate of games for the remaining WCC teams, with the schedule as follows:
- #3 BYU v. #6 LMU (1pm PT, theW.tv/BYUtv)
- #4 Santa Clara v. #5 San Francisco (3pm PT, theW.tv)
- #1 Gonzaga v. #9 Pacific (7pm PT, ESPN2)
- #2 Saint Mary’s v. #10 Portland (9pm PT, ESPN2)