West Coast Notebook
by James Burns
Pepperdine and Gonzaga Stumble Out of the Gates
Picked to finish atop the West Coast Conference this season, both Gonzaga and Pepperdine didn’t look the part in their season-openers.
No. 22 Gonzaga used a 16-6 run in the first half to stave off Hofstra, 69-61. The win pushes the Bulldogs’ home winning streak to 27 straight games. Over the last four years, the Bulldogs have gone 46-1 at home.
But even this win was nothing to cheer about. Hofstra played without two of its starters, including leading scorer Rick Apodaca. Cory Violette and Ronny Turiaf paced the Bulldogs, netting 17 points apiece.
Gonzaga will compete in the Maui Invitational, kicking off tournament play against Utah on Monday.
Pepperdine, on the other hand, wasn’t as fortunate. Bradley overcame a seven-point deficit during the final three minutes of play, forced overtime and eventually blew out the favorites, 95-81.
The game was ultimately decided in the trenches, where Bradley out-rebounded Pepperdine 59-43 -19 of which were offensive boards. Bradley’s Danny Granger led the attack, hauling down 20 rebounds. Granger and Phillip Gilbert each registered double-doubles for the Braves. Granger finished with a team-high 29 points and Gilbert chimed in with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Guards Terrance Johnson and Devin Montgomery led the Waves offensive punch with 20 points apiece.
Around the Horn
San Francisco, which suited up just eight players, was outmanned and outclassed by Seton Hall, 77-51. The Dons fell behind early and played catch-up the rest of the way.
The Pirates scored the first ten points of the game, giving themselves all the cushion they would need.
Darrell Tucker finally got the Dons on the scoreboard with 15:57 left in the first half with two free throws, but they didn’t notch their first basket until almost a minute later.
John Cox scored a team-high 16 points and Jovan Harris chipped in with 14 (11 of which came in the first half) for the Dons.
Portland trampled Pacific (OR) 70-42, behind a crew of freshman that packed the box scores (22 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists). Junior college transfer Dustin Geddis notched a double-double in his debut, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Santa Clara and San Diego needed free throws late in the game to get by Pacific of Stockton, Calif. (75-72) and Nevada-Reno (77-75), respectively.
Is Loyola-Marymount Worthy?
It’s hard to call Loyola Marymount a contender. Just yet.
With one of the smallest and youngest corps in the WCC, Loyola doesn’t have much of chance at the conference crown and its only automatic bid. However, with seven freshman and just two seniors, the Lions can promise one thing – they will be fun to watch.
Loyola-Chicago found that out the hard way during the season-opener. The Lions put the clamps on Loyola-Chicago and the nation’s fifth leading scorer, David Bailey, en route to a 85-79 victory.
Bailey, who averaged 22 points a game last season, was held to just two points in 30 minutes.
The Lions were led by none other than freshman Brandon Worthy. Worthy pumped in 24 points during his debut, resetting a school record for freshman. Ennoch Simmons established the mark in 1985, when he scored 20 points in his Lion-opener.
Worthy, a blue-chip high school recruit, was 10-11 from the charity stripe.
Player of the Week
Sure, his numbers weren’t as gaudy as others. But no player was as valuable to his team as Santa Clara’s Kyle Bailey was this week.
Bailey (16 points) single-handedly won the season-opener for the Broncos, nailing four clutch free throws down the stretch. Bailey finished the game perfect from the charity stripe, 8-8. With 18 seconds left in the game and Pacific pressing, Bailey notched his biggest pair of free throws to give Santa Clara a four-point cushion, 76-72.
To top it off, Bailey stripped Pacific’s Demetrius Jackson of the ball with 10.7 seconds left and nailed two more free throws to put the Tigers on ice.