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It's a new day in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga has officially been knocked off its pedestal. Filling the void of Mark Few's team at the top of the league, for now anyway, is a familiar foe in St. Mary's, a program that has been nipping at the heels of the Bulldogs for years now.
And last night could have been the start of something huge. The Gaels abruptly halted an eight-game losing streak to Gonzaga by completing a thorough 83-62 destruction of the 23rd ranked team in America. It was a true team effort from the head coach Randy Bennett's group, and the subtle, yet raucous crowd of 3,500 had good reason to celebrate virtually all night long.
St. Mary's has the feel of a program that can unseat both Gonzaga and BYU in the WCC supremacy this season, but it's going to take many more nights like this to get it done. And with BYU's addition to the league adding a completely new dimension to the schedule, simply finding a way to knock off Gonzaga isn't going to necessarily translate to a regular season title like in past year. There are some really good teams hiding out west that aren't getting nearly enough pub, and St. Mary's is a perfect example. Might be a good time to pay attention.
* Make that 17-0 for Murray State. Steve Prohm for COY? (Murray Ledger & Times)
* Austin Rivers on UV's final shot: I just crossed my heart and hoped they would miss. We finally got the rebound and I just took a deep breath, like, ‘we escaped.’" (Burlington Times News)
* A clutch defensive play from Dee Bost saved the day for MSU (Jackson Clarion Ledger)
* Back to Earth, indeed: The Hoosiers *somehow* fall to Minnesota (The Crimson Quarry)
St. Mary's - It's about time. The eight-game streak is finally over. This rivalry with Gonzaga has actually become, well, a rivalry. The Gaels shot better than 50% from the floor, had 21 assisted baskets and turned the ball over just five times on Thursday. All three are clearly winning ingredients, and the minimal turnover rate especially has been an unheralded staple of Bennett's teams in recent years. They might be sitting comfortably at 5-0 and atop the WCC, but the marathon that is conference play is just getting started for the Gaels.
Iona - More Gaels! This version blew a 17-point halftime lead to a Manhattan team who was barely hovering above .500 entering the day. The key, it seems, was that Iona was outscored 23 to 7 over the game's final 6:30. Oh, and somebody on Manhattan hit a clutch three-pointer or something in the final seconds. If only we had a video....
4.2% - Offensive rebounding percentage allowed by Clemson's defense in a loss to Boston College. It was hands-down the the Tigers' best showing on the defensive glass all season, and literally crushed their previous best of 17.5% vs. Gardner Webb. Borderline strange that the Tigers weren't able to win this game.