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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

March 3, 2008

Gonzaga - 88
Santa Clara - 54

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Freshman Steven Gray scored 18 points and No. 24 Gonzaga crushed Santa Clara 88-54 on Monday night to win its eighth consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season title.

Gray made six 3-pointers and Matt Bouldin added 14 points for the Bulldogs (24-6, 13-1), who won their 10th league title in the past 11 seasons. They had already clinched the top seed and a bye into the semifinals of this week's conference tournament in San Diego.

Mitch Henke led Santa Clara (14-15, 6-8) with 13 points, while John Bryant had 10, eight below his average. The Broncos took Gonzaga to double overtime before losing at home last month. It was a rout this time, as the Broncos shot 38 percent from the field and never threatened.

Gonzaga shot 47 percent, including 13-of-26 from 3-point range, and 12 players scored in the Bulldogs' seventh consecutive win.

Gonzaga scored the first 12 points of the game over the first 5 minutes by harassing the Broncos into eight turnovers. The lead was 26-7 as the Zags hit 11 of their first 20 shots.

Gonzaga led 36-19 at halftime.

The second half started with a 24-6 run by Gonzaga, including four 3-pointers by Gray, that made it 60-25 lead with 14 minutes left.

Santa Clara guard Brody Angley, the second-leading scorer at 12 points per game, suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head in the opening minutes and sat out the rest of the game. He scored a career-high 28 in the first game against Gonzaga.

Last season Santa Clara handed Gonzaga its first loss in the McCarthey Athletic Center after 39 consecutive wins dating to the opening in 2004. Gonzaga is 52-2 in the building, with its other loss coming to Washington State earlier this season.

It was Senior Night and the last home game for Gonzaga's David Pendergraft and Abdullahi Kuso.

Saint Mary's - 64
Portand - 50

PORTLAND, OR - Diamon Simpson scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Saint Mary's to a 64-50 victory over Portland in the West Coast Conference regular-season finale on Monday.

With the victory, the Gaels (25-5, 12-2) matched a school record for wins in a season, equaling the mark set by the 1988-89 and 2004-05 teams. Randy Bennett became the first coach to lead the Gaels to two 25-win season in the 100 year history of the program. Additionally, Saint Mary's tied a school record by posting a 12-2 record in WCC play. The only other team to post 12 conference wins was the 1988-89 squad.

Saint Mary's, which just fell from both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25, will enter the WCC Tournament after posting a second place finish in the WCC standings. Saint Mary's will have two byes and will open the tournament on Sunday in the semifinals.

Simpson lead all players with 23 points, after making 9-of-14 free throws in the game. Simpson narrowly missed his 13th double-double of the season, as he had a game-high nine rebounds. He also was a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point land, and finished the regular season shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point land, and team-best 58.8 percent (10-17) from three during WCC play.

Point guard Patrick Mills keyed the streak with six points and some hard-nosed defense. Mills finished with 11 points and his harassing defense was a big factor in Portland's 19 turnovers. St. Mary's scored 22 points off those miscues.

Todd Golden added 12 points for the Gaels and Omar Samhan had 10 points, all coming in the second half. Golden was 4-for-5 from the floor and made 3-of-4 3-point attempts.

After the Gaels took a 10-5 lead, Portland responded with a basket by Nik Raivio followed by a 3-pointer by Taishi Ito to even the score at 10-10 at the 11:13 mark of the first half. From there, SMC went on a 12-0 run, that included two threes by Todd Golden and four straight made free throws by Simpson, over the next 5:26. The run ended when Ito made a pair of free throws at the 5:47 mark.

Following the run by the Gaels, Portland responded by scoring the next five points to cut the SMC lead to 22-15, and after a Simpson lay-up, with 3:01 remaining in the half, ended a six and a half minutes field goal drought for the Gaels, Portland's 12-2 run cut SMC's lead to 24-22 with 1:00 left in the half. The final basket of the half came with 41 seconds left when Simpson finished a lay up for his 14th point of the half, and SMC led 26-22 at the break.

Saint Mary's opened the second half with a 10-4 run to open a 10-point lead (36-26) with 15:11 left. With SMC leading 40-30, the Pilots used an 8-1 run to cut the Gaels' lead to 41-38 with nine minutes remaining. Golden answered with a 24-footer for his third three of the game, sparking a 17-2 run by Saint Mary's. SMC's lead reached 58-40 following a 3-pointer and a steal and lay up by Mills and a pair of free throws by Simpson.

San Diego - 86
LMU - 65

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Brandon Johnson scored 25 points and Gyno Pomare added 18 to lead San Diego to an 86-65 win over Loyola Marymount on Monday night.

San Diego (18-13, 11-3 West Coast) shot 56.7 percent from the field and used a late scoring run to take a commanding 15-point halftime lead in the final regular-season game for both teams.

The Toreros, who are the No. 3 seed in the upcomng WCC Tournament they will host, used a 17-4 run in the final 4:46 of the first half for a 42-27 halftime lead. Pomare and De'Jon Jackson each scored five points during the run that was capped with Trumaine Johnson's fastbreak lay-up in the final minute.

San Diego maintained their double-digit lead throughout much of the second half. But the Lions cut the lead to 61-57 on freshman Orlando Johnson's 3-pointer with 7:47 left. The Toreros responded by scoring 14 unanswered points over the next 4 1/2 minutes to take control.

Johnson scored 19 points to lead Loyola Marymount (5-25, 2-12 WCC), which finished last in the conference for the fifth time in 12 seasons. The Lions also completed the regular season with fewer than 10 wins for the eighth time in 16 seasons.

Brandon Johnson and Pomare each had nine rebounds for San Diego, which won despite shooting 14-for-26 from the foul line. Johnson also dished out 8 assists. USD's final 11-3 WCC mark is the second best league record for the Toreros in program history, only bettered by the 1987 13-1 club. With a first round bye in the WCC Tourney, the Toreros will play the second quarterfinal game on Saturday against the winner from Friday's Pepperdine-Portland matchup.

San Francisco - 88
Pepperdine - 63

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Eddie Sutton's stay at San Francisco is nearly over and it certainly appears he's made progress with his team. His two seniors sent him out the right way at home on the Hilltop.

Only once in his career has Sutton lost on a Senior Day, and the Dons' interim coach made a point of telling his players that statistic.

Vince Polakovic scored a career-high 24 points and Danny Cavic had 17 points and eight rebounds in the Dons' 88-63 victory over Pepperdine on Monday night in Sutton's final game at Memorial Gym.

"It's been fun because a lot of these guys have gotten better, the team's gotten better," Sutton said after his 803rd career win. "We're a lot better than we were when I got here two months ago."

Dior Lowhorn added 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and Manny Quezada had six assists for San Francisco (9-20, 5-9) in its last regular-season game before this weekend's West Coast Conference tournament in San Diego.

"It's a fantastic feeling," Cavic said. "I'm definitely happy for myself and Vince. It's great to win the last one at home. This is what we needed to get a little momentum going into the tournament."

The Dons are the fifth seed and will open against No. 8 Loyola Marymount on Friday, while the sixth-seeded Waves (10-20, 4-10) will face No. 7 Portland on Friday.

Sutton (803-327) - who won his 800th game at Pepperdine on Feb. 2 - led his team to its third victory in four games and first two-game winning streak since he's been in charge. Polakovic shot 10-for-16 and Cavic made four 3-pointers.

"When you win two in a row, you get selfish and want to win some more," Sutton said. "I'm just happy these two guys went out on a winning note."

Sutton became interim coach Dec. 26 when Jessie Evans took a leave of absence.

Tyrone Shelley scored 28 points and hit four 3s fir the Waves, who are also working with an interim head coach as Eric Bridgeland stepped in after Vance Walberg resigned on Jan. 18 for personal reasons. Pepperdine has said former coach Tom Asbury will return next season.

Mike Hornbuckle had 15 points with three 3-pointers and six rebounds, but Pepperdine committed 18 turnovers in losing for the third time in four games.

Before the game, Sutton walked to midcourt to shake hands with lone Pepperdine senior Tyler Carr before the Dons honored their two seniors: Cavic and Polakovic. Early on, he leaned back in his chair with legs crossed before suddenly hopping up to let an official have it. He's still plenty animated and red-faced at times as he heads toward his 72nd birthday next week.

The Dons made eight of their first 13 shots, used a 13-3 run in the first half to grab momentum and came out with the kind of energy and hustle Sutton has been preaching to his players from Day 1. The kind of play he hopes this group can continue once he's long gone.

USF led 51-32 at halftime after shooting 53.3 percent to 41.4 for the Waves. It was the Dons' biggest halftime lead in conference play and their most points in a first half this season.

USF opens tournament play against Loyola Marymount Friday, March 7 in a 6:00 PM game at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The winner will take on No. 4 seed Santa Clara at 6:00 PM Saturday, March 8.