It was a rough day for the three Bay Area schools in the West Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament: St. Mary’s College, Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco all lost in the quarterfinals—with both SCU and USF putting up valiant efforts against top teams.
The University of San Francisco men’s basketball team won its opening-round game of the West Coast Conference Tournament, and now the Dons will face top-seeded Gonzaga in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Las Vegas. The Bulldogs are ranked seventh in both major media polls this year with their 29-2 record. It would be a major upset if USF managed to beat Gonzaga.
Santa Clara joined San Francisco as the two winners in the first-round West Coast Conference tournament, and now both Bay Area teams get to take on giants Saturday in Las Vegas. The Broncos get to face the Brigham Young Cougars, while the Dons play the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Both local teams will be big underdogs, but that’s why they play the games. After all, anything can—and often does—happen in college basketball and March Madness.
Bay Area residents generally don’t think of St. Mary’s College in Moraga as being a basketball powerhouse, but the Gaels basketball team is on the verge of making the NCAA Championship Tournament for the fifth time in eight seasons if they can make a good showing this week in the West Coast Conference tournament.
There were days not so long ago when Santa Clara was the team none of the big boys wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Broncos struggle to even win the West Coast Conference title, thanks to the emergence of Gonzaga. But if there had been no Santa Clara, there would not be Gonzaga today.
USF coach Rex Walters wasn’t happy with his team’s lack of toughness in a blowout loss to Gonzaga. “They won all the 50/50 balls, and the toughness points,” Walters said of No. 24 Gonzaga, which won 69-41 on Monday night.
Gonzaga has been chosen to win the West Coast Conference by the league’s coaches.