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WCC Tournament Recap: Day 3

No upsets today

NCAA Basketball: WCC Tournament-St. Mary’s vs Loyola Marymount Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For both the Men and Women, the higher seeded teams were victorious to set up a 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 semifinals on Monday.

In the first game, 4th seeded Santa Clara took advantage of a seemingly tired LMU squad for an easy 83-68 win. The Lady Broncos had 10 days off prior to tonight’s contest while LMU was playing their third game in as many nights. Santa Clara never trailed and extended their lead to 29 by the end of the third quarter before letting their 2nd unit have substantial minutes.

Santa Clara was led by Merle Wiehl who scored a career-high 28 points on an impressive 11 for 15 shooting with Lindsey VanAllen adding 22. For the second night in a row, LMU was led by sophomore center Khari Clark who scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

Santa Clara takes on the Lady Zags Monday at 11:00 a.m. PST.

In the second contest, no. 3 seed San Francisco edged out no. 7 seed St. Mary’s 69-63. USF jumped out to a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but St. Mary’s chipped away all game to get within one with 5-minutes left to play. That’s when USF’s freshman guard Ioanna Krimili took over. The Greek-born Krimili hit three 3-pointers in the last 5 minutes to secure the victory for USF.

USF was led by Lucie Hoskova who dropped 18 points and Krimili who added 15. Guards Madeline Holland and Jade Kirisome chipped in 13 each for St Mary’s.

USF take on BYU at 2:00 p.m. Monday.

I started to watch the St Mary’s/LMU game, then I found out CSPAN 2 was replaying the reading of the 700-page COVID relief bill, so I changed the channel. In a game making my year in quarantine seem exciting by comparison, St. Mary’s beat LMU 52-47.

This was a game where only 10 players scored, four for St. Mary’s and six for LMU. The game had 15 assists against 27 turnovers and both teams shot under 40% from the field and 20% from deep. It was a slog. St Mary’s Logan Johnson led all scorers with 25 with Tommy Kuhse adding 12. Eli Scott led LMU with 18 with Mattias Markusson dropping 14. Maybe they should have played 2-on-2.

All things considered, St. Mary’s taking on Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament just feels right. The Gaels and the Zags play Monday at 6:00 p.m. PST on ESPN.

In a much more entertaining and faster paced game, Pepperdine defeated Santa Clara 78-70. Santa Clara led for much of the first half behind the strong inside play of center Guglielmo Caruso and forward Josip Vrankic. Things changed in the half’s last five minutes as the Broncos showed the effects of playing three games in three days and missed about half a dozen bunnies allowing the Waves to take a 40-35 halftime lead to the locker room.

In the second half, there was too much Kessler Edward, Colby Ross with Jan Zidek providing offense off the bench. The Waves streched the lead to 18, but the Broncos mounted a furious comeback to cut the lead to four in the last minute. Santa Clara’s star Vrankic missed free throws at key times allowing the Waves to maintain their lead. Ross led all scorers with 25 and Edwards added 21 for the Waves. The Broncos were led by Caruso with 16 and Vrankic with 15.

Pepperdine will take on BYU at 9:00 p.m. PST on Monday. The Waves and the Cougars split their games this year with each team losing on their home court.