2011 WCC Tournament: Gonzaga Defeats St. Mary's 75-63 To Clinch Tourney Bid

We provide a running stream updating the bracket schedule, scores and other news coming out of the 2011 West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena. You can view additional information at SB Nation Seattle's own WCC conference tournament stream.

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St. Mary's vs. Gonzaga: SMC Loses WCC Championship Game, Awaits Selection Sunday Fate

The 2011 West Coast Conference Championship game is in the books and the Gonzaga Bulldogs have punched their ticket for the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The St. Mary's Gaels battled foul trouble all night long and came out on the short end of the stick in the WCC title game. The Gaels now find themselves in a bit of an odd position. Saint Mary's made a late season addition to their schedule and now will host Weber State this Friday. They cannot afford to lose this game, but they also need to figure out how to regroup from this disheartening loss to Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs did not seal the game until the final three minutes, but the Gonzaga victory just seemed inevitable at times. While SMC was able to capture the lead at the 12:13 mark of the second half, they couldn't get the lead past a single point. Gonzaga was able to wear the Gaels down inside thanks to Rob Jones' foul trouble. Jones was almost entirely ineffective tonight save for a couple of baskets. He picked up three fouls, including one technical, midway through the first half and sat out the final ten minutes of that half. While he didn't get his fourth foul until halfway through the second half, he played incredibly tentative basketball. He finished with six points and nine rebounds but disappeared for long stretches of the game.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of this week and Selection Sunday play out. The Gaels played tonight's matchup quite close but a late Gonzaga run resulted in a twelve point Gaels loss. The selection committee hopefully saw this game, but it's entirely possible some of them didn't and will just view it as a bad loss for SMC. As a member of a mid-major, their top 50 RPI and 22 wins (likely 23 after Friday's Weber State game) might not be enough to lock up an at-large bid, even with this new expanded field. We'll be here all week keeping an eye on various conference tournament outcomes and what they might mean for the Gaels 2011 NCAA tournament chances.

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St. Mary's vs. Gonzaga, 2011 WCC Championship First Half Recap: Bulldogs Lead 39-34

The first half of the 2011 WCC Championship game was a rough and tumble affair with a lot of fouls and even some blood drawn. At the end of twenty minutes of play, the Gonzaga Bulldogs lead the St. Mary's Gaels 39-34. The Bulldogs have that lead in part thanks to a Marquise Carter runner at the buzzer. Carter leads the Bulldogs with 11 points and scored six of the team's last eight points of the half. Saint Mary's is led by Mickey McConnell's 11 points and Matthew Dellavedova's 10 points.

The big story of the first half has to be Rob Jones's foul trouble. The Gaels leading rebounder grabbed an early foul and sat for a stretch before returning. However, he then was charged with a second foul trying to draw a charge and was quickly T'd up for too much arguing of the call. With three fouls, Jones was sent to the bench at the 10:29 mark and sat out the rest of the first half. While Gonzaga did take advantage of the big man's absence, they should arguably be even further ahead than their current five point lead. Fortunately for St. Mary's their outside shooting has been solid as they are 5-for-9 from beyond the three point line.

We'll be back with a game recap in our WCC tournament stream, but in the meantime we'll have in-game updates via Twitter (@sbnbayarea).

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St. Mary's vs. Gonzaga, 2011 WCC Championship Game Preview: ESPN Airing Battle For NCAA Tournament Bid

Fooch's Note: We'll have a halftime update and game recap in this stream. For the rest of our in-game updates, check us out at @sbnbayarea.

Tonight at 6:00pm pacific, ESPN will air the 2011 West Coast Conference Championship game between the St. Mary's Gaels and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The top two seeds in the WCC tournament split their season series with a pair of tightly contested games that were not decided until the closing moments of each game. Tonight's rubber match has Gonzaga as a slight 1 1/2 point favorite, which is a spread befitting a game that should be filled with high drama. Of course now that I've said that, one team is going to win by about 20.

The Saint Mary's Gaels are led by WCC Player of the Year Mickey McConnell and his 16.5 points and 6.1 assists per game. However, on any given night they have several players that can step up and lead the team. Rob Jones and Matthew Dellavedova are averaging 13.6 and 13.2 points per game, while Mitchell Young is dropping in 10.4. Jones is the Gaels primary inside man as he averages 7.5 rebounds per game, while Young brings down 5.1 board per game.

Jones and Young will have to earn their scholarships tonight as they'll face an assortment of big bodies in the Gonzaga lineup. Seven footer Robert Sacre is the team's leading rebounder with 6.2 per game, while Elias Harris is right behind him with 5.9 per game. Seven footer Kelly Olynyk doesn't play nearly as many minutes as Sacre and Harris, but you can't teach seven feet and he is able to give them some size off the bench. The Bulldogs leading scorer is senior guard Steven Gray, who averages 13.7 points per game. Sacre and Harris provide 12.5 and 12.2 points per game respectively.

Gonzaga received some big contributions last night against San Francisco when junior guard Marquise Carter poured in a team-leading 18 points and freshman guard David Stockton (John's son) added 9 points, 3 steals, 2 assists and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes of play. If the Bulldogs get those kinds of contributions tonight it could be a long night for the Gaels.

We'll have more updates from tonight's game in our WCC tournament story stream. Additionally, you can get a Gonzaga perspective on this weekend's games in SB Nation Seattle's WCC tournament story stream and at The Slipper Still Fits.

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2011 WCC Tournament Finals Betting Odds: Gonzaga Slight Favorite Over St. Mary's In Spread

The gambling odds are out for tonight's 2011 West Conference Conference Tournament Finals and Gonzaga has emerged as a slim favorite over St. Mary's. The Bulldogs range from 1 1/2 to to 2-point favorites depending on which site you view. The over/under is at approximately 142 1/2 total points. Over the course of this season, Gonzaga has gone 14-11-1 against the spread while St. Mary's is 11-10-2 against the spread.

This line reflects how close this matchup should be tonight. In their two matchups this season the home team has been a four point favorite. In the first game up in Spokane the Bulldogs opened as 2 1/2 point favorites and the line closed with them as 4 point favorites. St. Mary's won that matchup 73-71. In the return match at Moraga, St. Mary's opened as 3 1/2 point favorites and the line closed with the Gaels as 4 point favorites. Gonzaga won that matchup 89-85 in overtime.

The rubber match will take place on a neutral court, but one person in attendance seems to think Gonzaga will have a huge advantage in terms of fan support. Given the wins on opposite home courts, it remains to be seen how valuable that will be. It should  make for an electric atmosphere, particularly given the fact that both teams have very little margin for error when it comes to at-large bids.

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Gonzaga vs. St. Mary's, 2011 WCC Tournament Finals: Does The Bubble Watch Even Matter?

After a Sunday of exciting West Coast Conference basketball, the 2011 WCC men's basketball tournament has reached it's finale. The No. 1-seeded St. Mary's Gaels will face the No. 2-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, with the winner securing the league's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. A St. Mary's win will give the Gaels back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in school history. Both squads find themselves firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble watch.

Clearly both teams desperately want to win this game. However, the possibility of an at-large berth does exist in some manner for both teams. Both teams find themselves precipitously on the bubble, with the Gaels sitting with an RPI of 46 and the Bulldogs with an RPI of 67. The Bulldogs best win this season was over RPI No. 21 Xavier. The Gaels own an impressive win over the St. John's Red Storm. SMC and Gonzaga split their matchup this season with both teams rolling up a road upset.

Both teams deserve credit for putting together solid non-conference schedules, although at the end of the day losses to good teams aren't exactly the best help. Gonzaga lost at home to San Diego State, Memphis, and Illinois, lost on the road to Notre Dame and Washington State, and lost on a neutral site to Kansas State. Saint Mary's lost on the road to San Diego State and Vanderbilt, lost at home to Utah State, and lost on a neutral court to BYU.

I'd argue that Saint Mary's road loss to No. 317 San Diego would put them in a worse position, but Gonzaga's losses at No. 121 San Francisco and No. 158 Santa Clara don't give them much better cred. It wouldn't surprise me at this point if the WCC ended up as a one bid league. That should make this game all the more entertaining as desperation level should be incredibly high.

We'll have more updates from tonight's game in our WCC tournament story stream. Additionally, you can get a Gonzaga perspective on this weekend's games in SB Nation Seattle's WCC tournament story stream and at The Slipper Still Fits.

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Results: Gonzaga Escapes With Semifinal Win Over San Francisco

The Gonzaga Bulldogs held off a feisty San Francisco Dons squad to advance to the finals of the 2011 West Coast Conference tournament. The Bulldogs overcame a poor second half of shooting to end the upset hopes of the Dons. Gonzaga advances to face St. Mary's tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN in a battle of the top two teams in the conference.

The Bulldogs looked like they were ready to cruise as they led by 10 at the half. The game got off to a slow start in the first half but Gonzaga looked to be pulling away. However, Gonzaga suddenly couldn't hit the broad side of a barn as they were shooting under 40% throughout the second half. San Francisco caught fire and actually cut the lead to two with under a minute to play. Unfortunately for the Dons three straight turnovers kept them from tying the game.

The game took a surreal turn at the end. The Dons hit a three to cut the lead to 68-65 with seven seconds left. After a 30-second timeout, Gonzaga went to inbounds the pass when Rashad Green stole the pass to David Stockton. Unfortunately, someone on the Dons appeared to try and call a timeout even though San Francisco was out of timeouts. This reenactment of Chris Webber's infamous 1993 NCAA tournament mistake cost the Dons. Marquise Carter hit one of two free throws and USF was unable to recover in the closing seconds.

Today's St. Mary's and Gonzaga victories now gives us a much anticipated rubber match. Saint Mary's defeated Gonzaga 73-71 in Spokane and Gonzaga returned the favor with an 89-85 OT victory in Moraga.

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Results: St. Mary's Defeats Santa Clara 73-64

The St. Mary’s Gaels used a solid second half to pull away and defeat the Santa Clara Broncos in the first semifinal game of the 2011 West Coast Conference tournament. The Gaels will face the winner of the second game featuring Gonzaga and San Francisco. This marks the third straight year Saint Mary’s has played in the WCC finals and a victory tomorrow night on ESPN would send SMC to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. The Gaels have never been to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons.

Santa Clara gave St. Mary’s a tough time in the first half as the Gaels were unable to pull far ahead at any point. SMC went into the half up two, but used a quick 13-5 run to take a ten point lead early in the second half. St. Mary’s used an incredibly balanced attack to wear out the Broncos. Mitchell Young led the team with 17 points and seven rebounds. Team leader Mickey McConnell had a bit of a slow night putting up ten points and five assists. However, the work of Young, Stephen Holt and Matthew Dellavedova more than made up for McConnell’s slow night.

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Update: St. Mary's Leads Santa Clara By Two At Halftime

The St. Mary’s Gaels find themselves in a tough battle in the opening semifinal game of the 2011 West Coast Conference tournament. Saint Mary’s heads into halftime leading the Santa Clara Broncos 31-29. The game got off to a slow start with neither side getting into double digit scoring until the 10:21 mark. The Broncos led 26-22 with under three minutes to go, but the Gaels used a 9-3 run to close out the half with the two point lead.

Santa Clara has seen 22 of their 29 points come from Marc Trasolini and Kevin Foster. Four different players have scored six or more points for St. Mary’s, led by seven from Matthew Dellavedova. WCC Player of the year Mickey McConnell has scored four points and dished out four assists.

The winner of this game will advance to face the winner of Gonzaga and San Francisco tomorrow night at 6:00pm pacific on ESPN. The Dons and Bulldogs will tip approximately thirty minutes after this game ends.

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Bracket: San Francisco, Santa Clara Advance To Face Gonzaga, St. Mary's

The quarterfinals of the 2011 West Coast Conference tournament are complete and the favorites have advanced on to the semifinals. The San Francisco Dons had little trouble in defeating the Pepperdine Waves 76-59. USF was led by Rashad Green’s 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Santa Clara Broncos closed strong in the second half to defeat the Loyola Marymount Lions 76-68. The Broncos received huge efforts from Marc Trasolini, Evan Roguemore, and Kevin Foster who combined to score 61 of Santa Clara’s 76 points.

Santa Clara advances to face the top-seeded St. Mary’s Gaels at 5:00pm pacific. The Gaels swept the two-game set with victories of 84-59 and 65-59. The Broncos will be looking to snap a four game losing streak to Saint Mary’s. San Francisco advances to face the Gonzaga Bulldogs at 7:30pm pacific. The Dons and Bulldogs split their season series, each winning at home.

The two matchups will appear back-to-back on ESPN2. Monday’s championship game will air on ESPN at 6:00pm pacific.

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Bracket: Quarterfinals Preview

The 2011 West Coast Conference tournament moves on to the quarterfinals today at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The quarterfinals tip off with the Santa Clara Broncos and Loyola Marymount Lions at 6:00pm pacific. The second matchup will feature the San Francisco Dons and Pepperdine Waves.

Loyola Marymount came into the tournament as the bottom seed and knocked off fifth-seeded Portland last night. They enter their matchup with the Broncos as a five point underdog. Santa Clara swept the season series. Pepperdine squeezed out an 84-81 victory over San Diego last night and are a 3 1/2 point underdog today against San Francisco. The teams split their season series with Pepperdine giving the Dons a tough fight in San Francisco, losing 79-78 in overtime thanks to a last second foul.


Pepperdine (12-20) vs. San Francisco (16-13)

GAME NOTES: West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal action concludes tonight with a showdown between the sixth-seeded Pepperdine Waves and the third-seeded San Francisco Dons at Orleans Arena. The victor will move on to face second-seeded Gonzaga in a semifinal matchup on Sunday.

Pepperdine advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of an 84-81 opening round victory over the San Diego Toreros. The win snapped a string of four consecutive losses to close the regular season. San Francisco earned a third-seed and a first-round bye on the strength of a 10-4 WCC clip, marking the Dons' first 10-win campaign since 1982.

The Waves and the Dons will meet for the 117th time tonight, with San Francisco holding a 67-49 lead. The two teams split the season series this year. In the most recent matchup, on Feb. 24th, it took overtime for San Francisco to dispatch Pepperdine, 79-78, as the Dons fought back from a 13- point second half deficit to earn the win.

Pepperdine barely survived an offensive slugfest with San Diego to advance in the Tournament. The Waves shot a season-high 56.4 percent for the game and held an eight point lead with 50 seconds to play before the Toreros drained four three-pointers in the final minute of action and narrowly missed a half- court shot at the buzzer in the heart-stopping conclusion. San Diego shot a healthy 51.9 percent for the game, as neither team's defense wanted to get its hands dirty. Mychel Thompson led the charge for the Waves, as he tallied 26 points, largely behind a 14-of-17 performance from the foul line. Lorne Jackson also drew contact with regularity, as he nailed 12-of-13 free throws and finished with 23 points. Corbin Moore was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe for his 11 points. In all, 53 fouls we called in the game, as Pepperdine outscored San Diego 36-17 from the foul line. The Waves score 69.7 ppg on the year, as Thompson averages 14.7 ppg and Jackson puts in 13 ppg. As evident in the San Diego game, Pepperdine can be vulnerable on the defensive end, as it allows 73.9 ppg on the year.

Although it was assured of the third-seed heading into the season finale with Loyola Marymount, San Francisco still competed with vigor, pulling off a gutsy 77-75 victory. The Dons turned in a strong offensive performance, placing five players in double figures. Senior center Moustapha Diarra led the way with 16 points, seven boards, and a block. Angelo Caloiaro added 13 points and six boards, while Perris Blackwell finished with 12 points and six boards. Freshman guard Marko Petrovic also had a strong night, as he finished with 11 points, including a key late-game three-pointer, while Rashad Green added 10 points. Most of the Dons' scoring was done in the trenches, where they posted a 34-18 advantage. In reality, San Francisco is not usually as productive offensively. Williams (14.9 ppg), Green (11.4 ppg) and Blackwell (10.5 ppg) lead the Dons to 68.7 ppg. They allow 70 ppg on the defensive end of the floor.

Expect Pepperdine to earn the upset win tonight. The Waves are riding high after a shootout victory and have shown that they can hang with the Dons this year.

GAME NOTES: West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal action concludes tonight with a showdown between the sixth-seeded Pepperdine Waves and the third-seeded San Francisco Dons at Orleans Arena.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,471) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: none. Home Record: Pepperdine 7-7, San Francisco 12-3. Away Record: Pepperdine 2-13, San Francisco 4-8. Neutral Record: Pepperdine 3-0, San Francisco 0-2. Conference Record: Pepperdine 5-9, San Francisco 10-4. Series Record: San Francisco leads, 67-49.

Saturday, March 5th, 11:30 p.m. (et)

PREDICTION: Pepperdine 76, San Francisco 73


Loyola Marymount (11-20) vs. Santa Clara (18-3)

GAME NOTES: Quarterfinal action of the West Coast Conference Tournament kicks off tonight with a bout between the eight-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions and the fourth-seeded Santa Clara Broncos at Orleans Arena. The victor will advance to face top-seeded Saint Mary's (CA) in a semifinal matchup on Sunday.

Loyola reached the quarterfinals following a 72-68 opening round victory over Portland. With the win, the Lions became the first eight-seed in the current tournament format to advance to the quarterfinals. Santa Clara posted an 8-6 WCC record to receive a first-round bye as the fourth-seed for the second time in three years. Tonight's matchup marks the 134th meeting between Loyola and Santa Clara. The Broncos currently hold an 82-51 lead, and swept this year's regular season series.

In a season of near misses and close calls, LMU finally got one to break its way in Friday's victory over Portland. With the Lions holding a slim 68-66 lead in the closing minutes, both teams hit a three minute long scoring drought. With the Lions clinging to their lead and failing to generate any offense, they crashed the boards with vigor, grabbing three offensive boards in the waning moments, forcing Portland to foul, then icing the game from the line. Drew Viney led the Lions to victory, scoring 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go with five boards. Vernon Teele has a strong game in a reserve role, as he rose from the pine to net 13 points and hand out five assists. The Lions' solid defensive effort down the stretch comes as somewhat of a surprise, as they give up 72.1 ppg. The strong rebounding performance was more expected, as the Lions post a plus-2.8 rebounding margin on the year. Viney leads the offensive charge, pouring in 17.2 ppg, as the team scores 70.9 ppg on the whole.

Santa Clara last played a week ago, earning a 71-68 victory over Pepperdine to claim the tournament's fourth-seed. Junior Marc Trasolini led the team to victory, pouring in 21 points, and reaching 1,000 for his career in the process. The game was tight down the stretch, but the Broncos held on, as freshman Evan Roquemore calmly knocked down four free throws in the final minute of action. Roquemore, who was recently named to the All-WCC Freshman team, finished with 15 points, while Kevin Foster, an All-WCC First Team member, tallied 16 points and five assists. He paces the Broncos on the year at 19.5 ppg. Trasolini (12.5 ppg) and Roquemore (11.3 pg) help lead the Broncos to 73.3 ppg. Troy Payne, who was recently named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the league in steals and ranks fourth in rebounding. Santa Clara allows 70 ppg on the defensive end.

Expect Santa Clara to earn the victory tonight. This year, the Broncos have already proven on two separate occasions that they have what it takes to down the Lions.

GAME NOTES: Quarterfinal action of the West Coast Conference Tournament kicks off tonight with a bout between the eight-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions and the fourth-seeded Santa Clara Broncos at Orleans Arena.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,471) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: none. Home Record: Loyola Marymount 7-7, Santa Clara 13-5. Away Record: Loyola Marymount 2-12, Santa Clara 5-6. Neutral Record: Loyola Marymount 2-1, Santa Clara 0-2. Conference Record: Loyola Marymount 2-12, Santa Clara 8-6. Series Record: Santa Clara leads, 82-51.

Saturday, March 5th, 9:00 p.m. (et)

PREDICTION: Santa Clara 76, Loyola Marymount 71

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament, NCAA Scores: Loyola Marymount With Your First Upset

The 2011 West Coast Conference tournament is officially underway and we've had our first upset of the weekend. The eighth-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions kicked the tournament off by knocking out the fifth-seeded Portland Pilots. Somehow Portland had worked its way into the third favored team after Gonzaga and St. Mary's, but they were dispatched tonight by the Lions. Loyola Marymount advances to face fourth-seeded Santa Clara tomorrow night at 6:00pm pacific. The winner of that matchup gets top seeded Saint Mary's in the semifinals on Sunday.

In the other opening round matchup, Pepperdine rode Mychel Thompson's 26 points to victory over the 6-23 San Diego Toreros. Pepperdine advances to face the third seeded San Francisco Dons. The winner of that matchup gets Gonzaga in the semifinals on Sunday.

We'll have a running WCC tournament story stream throughout the weekend's games. Additionally, you can get a Gonzaga perspective on this weekend's games in SB Nation Seattle's WCC tournament story stream. Below are more thorough Sports Network previews of each of tonight's games including all the nitty gritty details.


Recap: Portland vs. Loyola Marymount
Sports Network | March 5, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - Drew Viney posted a game-high 25 points to lead the eighth-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions to a 72-68 win over the fifth- seeded Portland Pilots in the opening round of the West Coast Conference Tournament at Orleans Arena. Vernon Teel added 13 points in the win for LMU (11-20), which also saw 12 points from Anthony Ireland. Godwin Okonji pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Lions, who advance to face fourth-seeded Santa Clara on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Jared Stohl scored 23 points to pace Portland (20-11) in the loss, while Nemanja Mitrovic finished with 14 points. The Pilots made good on 48.3 percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes, but still found themselves trailing by a slight 40-37 margin heading into the break.

The Lions then converted 46.2 percent from the field during the second stanza to stave a late Portland rally and escape with the four-point win. The Lions drained 8-of-17 from long range during the contest.


Recap: Pepperdine vs. San Diego
Sports Network | March 5, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - Mychel Thompson poured in 26 points to lead the sixth-seeded Pepperdine Waves to an 84-81 victory over the seventh-seeded San Diego Toreros in first round action of the West Coast Conference tournament at the Orleans Arena. Lorne Jackson added 23 points and eight assists for Pepperdine (12-20), which will now meet the third-seeded San Francisco Dons in the quarterfinal round on Saturday. Chris Gabriel registered 18 points for San Diego (6-24), while Darian Norris and Devin Ginty posted 14 points apiece in the loss. Chris Manresa chipped in 12 points in the loss.

The Waves shot a staggering 63.2 percent from the floor in the first half and went into the break with a 41-30 advantage. Pepperdine used a 22-of-29 showing from the foul line in the second stanza to hold on for the win. The Waves finished 36-of-44 from the foul line, while San Diego connected on just 17-of-27 attempts from the charity stripe.

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Preview: First Round Matchups & NCAA Odds

The 2011 West Coast Conference Tournament kicks off at 6:00pm pacific tonight at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The opening round matchups feature Portland versus Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine versus San Diego. Tomorrow night the winner of Portland-Loyola Marymount will face fourth-seeded Santa Clara, while the winner of Pepperdine-San Diego will face third-seeded San Francisco.

Portland enters tonight's matchup as a 6 1/2 point favorite over LMU. Pepperdine stands as a 4 1/2 point favorite over San Diego. Of the teams playing tonight, fifth place Portland is getting the most surprising odds to win the tournament as they sit at 9-to-1 to win the whole thing. For comparison's sake, third place San Francisco is currently sitting at 16-to-1. The Pilots did finish 20-10 to USF's 16-13 mark but the Dons did a much better job in conference play. I'd be more inclined to roll the dice on USF in a gambling situation than I would Portland.

We'll have a running WCC tournament story stream throughout the weekend's games. Additionally, you can get a Gonzaga perspective on this weekend's games in SB Nation Seattle's WCC tournament story stream. Below are more thorough Sports Network previews of each of tonight's games including all the nitty gritty details.

Loyola Marymount (10-20) vs. Portland (20-10)
GAME NOTES: The 25th-annual West Coast Conference Tournament gets underway this evening in Las Vegas, as the fifth-seeded Portland Pilots take on the eighth-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions in first-round action from the Orleans Arena. The winner of this game will move on to Saturday's quarterfinal action against four-seed Santa Clara.

The Pilots totaled 20 wins during the regular season, but found the West Coast Conference slate a little more challenging, sporting an even 7-7 mark after splitting its last eight games.

The Lions won just 10 games on the season with a mere two coming in- conference. LMUdropped three straight to close out the season and seven of its last eight overall.

The Pilots have closed the gap in the series to 42-41 thanks to a pair of wins this season. Portland outlasted Loyola Marymount at home on January 13th, 79-78 (2OT) and then blew out the Lions in Los Angeles a month later, 71-48.

Loyola Marymount has suffered some narrow losses on the season and has been snake-bitten at times, including a 94-88 double-overtime loss to Santa Clara and a 77-75 narrow setback at San Francisco to close out the year. In fact, seven of the team's 12 league losses have come by a combined 23 points. Despite several injuries down the stretch, the Lions still have some dangerous personnel, starting with WCC Honorable Mention Drew Viney. The junior forward missed some time with migraines, but came on strong as the season came to a close and currently leads the team in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg). Senior guard Vernon Teel, also a WCC Honorable Mention is both a scorer (12.8 ppg) and solid distributor (3.8 apg) while All-WCC freshman point guard Anthony Ireland (10.1 ppg) rounds out the top offensive threats.

Portland has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons and has amassed 41 combined wins over that time, marking the most in school history. Despite averaging a modest 71.3 ppg, the Pilots are an efficient offensive squad, shooting .462 from the floor overall. That number is enhanced by a .420 mark from behind the arc, good for third nationally. The team is fueled by a pair of All-WCC First- Team members in senior forward Luke Sikma and junior guard Nemanji Mitrovic. Sikma (13.3 ppg), the team's all-time rebounding leader (969) leads theWCC in rebounding (10.6 rpg) and double-doubles (14). Mitrovic (13.7 ppg) ranks fifth nationally in three-point accuracy (.471, 90-of-191). Jared Stohl (13.5 ppg) is another sniper, hitting .435 from behind the arc (83-of-191).

The Pilots won both games against the Lions this season and there isn't any reason to think anything will change in the postseason. Behind the play of Sikma and Mitrovic, expect Portland to move on, while Loyola Marymount's season comes to an end.

GAME NOTES: The 25th-annual West Coast Conference Tournament gets underway this evening in Las Vegas, as the fifth-seeded Portland Pilots take on the eighth-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions in first-round action from the Orleans Arena. The winner of this game will move on to Saturday's quarterfinal action against four-seed Santa Clara.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,845) - Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: LMU 7-7, Portland 13-3. Away Record: LMU 2-12, Portland 7-6. Neutral Record: LMU 1-1, Portland 0-1. Conference Record: LMU 2-12, Portland 7-7. Series Record: Loyola Marymount leads, 42-41.

Friday, March 4th, 9:00 p.m. (et)

PREDICTION: Portland 71, Loyola Marymount 58

San Diego (6-23) vs. Pepperdine (11-20)
GAME NOTES: First-round action in the 25th-annual West Coast Conference will close out in Las Vegas this evening, when the sixth-seeded Pepperdine Waves take on the seventh-seeded San Diego Toreros. The winner of this contest will move on to Saturday's quarterfinal round against three-seed San Francisco.

Wins have been few and far between for the Toreros this season. San Diego has just six victories on the season, with just two coming in West Coast Conference play. The team has not won more than one game at a time, and enters the tournament with losses in five of the last six regular-season games.

The Waves have had a litte more success on the season, posting 11 overall wins and a 5-9 conference mark. However, the team took a downward spiral as the regular season came to a close, with losses in four straight games. Still, one more victory will give Pepperdine its most overall victories since the 2004-05 campaign.

The Waves have dominated the series with San Diego. This is the 90th all-time meeting, with Pepperdine leading 55-34. The Waves swept the regular-season series, posting a 20-point rout in Malibu on January 6th (75-55) and a seven- point overtime victory in San Diego on February 5th (70-63).

There haven't been many highlights for San Diego this season, but a big win over powerhouse Saint Mary's in mid-February was certainly the apex of the season. Still, the numbers lack any real teeth at either end of the floor, with San Diego averaging a mere 60.2 ppg on a meager .419 shooting. Darian Norris is the top scoring threat, but the guard is converting just 38 percent from the floor, while averaging 10.3 ppg. Matt Dorr is next in line at 9.1 ppg. The team has really struggle this season on the boards, getting outrebounded by almost seven rebounds per game (6.8). Young center Chris Manresa leads the way in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and blocked shots (22).

The Waves lost prolific scorer Keion Bell (18.9 ppg), but Mychel Thompson and Lorne Jackson have picked up the slack. Thompson ranked third in the conference in scoring this year at 14.4 ppg, while Jackson was fifth at 12.7 ppg. The pair earned All-WCC Honorable Mention as a result, but the loss of Bell has certainly handcuffed this team down the stretch. Bell was suspended for the year for conduct detrimental to the team. The offensive numbers obviously could have been much better had the Waves been a full strength all season long. Pepperdine still possesses the ability to score with Thompson and Jackson, but has struggled this season preventing the opposition from doing the same. The Waves are allowing foes to net 73.7 ppg on .456 shooting.

The Waves swept the Toreros this season and they should be able to complete the trifecta in Vegas this evening. While not an offensive juggernaut by any stretch, Pepperdine still has more than enough to move on and into the next round.

GAME NOTES: First-round action in the 25th-annual West Coast Conference will close out in Las Vegas this evening, when the sixth-seeded Pepperdine Waves take on the seventh-seeded San Diego Toreros. The winner of this contest will move on to Saturday's quarterfinal round against three-seed San Francisco.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,845) - Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: San Diego 5-9, Pepperdine 7-7. Away Record: San Diego 0-12, Pepperdine 2-13. Neutral Record: San Diego 1-2, Pepperdine 2-0. Conference Record: San Diego 2-12, Pepperdine 5-9. Series Record: Pepperdine leads, 55-34.

Friday, March 4th, 11:30 p.m. (et)

PREDICTION: Pepperdine 68, San Diego 57

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2011 West Coast Conference Tournament Odds: Gonzaga Favorite, St. Mary's Right Behind Them

The 2011 West Coast Conference Tournament begins tonight with first round matchups and a late run in the conference regular season has moved the Gonzaga Bulldogs into the favorite position in the WCC tournament odds. Although the St. Mary’s Gaels are not that far behind, it goes to show how quickly people are willing to jump on the Bulldogs bandwagon after a few solid wins. Bodog posted the odds to win the WCC tournament as follows:

Gonzaga: 10/11
St. Mary’s: 5/4
Loyola Marymount: 80/1
Pepperdine: 65/1
Portland: 9/1
San Diego: 200/1
San Francisco: 16/1
Santa Clara: 25/1

Given all these odds I’d be inclined to pick Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga slipped ahead with the victory at Moraga, leaving us with a neutral floor rubber match. Although the Bulldogs could very well win the conference tournament, it almost seems like a sucker bet. The bet that could be the most interesting would be San Francisco. While the Dons were swept by St. Mary’s they did knock off Gonzaga in San Francisco. A neutral site won’t be a cake-walk, but the Dons wouldn’t have to face St. Mary’s until the finals.

We’ll have a running WCC tournament story stream throughout the weekend’s games. Additionally, you can get a Gonzaga perspective on this weekend’s games in SB Nation Seattle’s WCC tournament story stream.

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