All Washington teams were able to escape their home games victorious this past Thursday. The Washington Huskies hung close with the Oregon Ducks as they worked to overcome the loss of Abdul Gaddy, The Washington State got back to their old form and withstood a second half-defensive charged comeback from the Oregon State Beavers, and the Seattle University Red Hawks took control and won the return game of an in season home-and-home series with the Eastern Washington Eagles.
On Saturday, Gonzaga, who head into this game on the wave of a six game win streak, opens WCC Conference play, while Washington and Washington State continue their home-stand against the Oregon schools and Seattle takes on Cal State Northridge.
Saturday - Jan. 8
The surprising Oregon State Beavers (7-7 overall, 2-1 in the Pac-10) who swept the Arizona schools at home hit a snag this past Thursday as they lost to Washington State 84-70. While that score may seem lopsided, Washington State didn't really take off until about the 4:00 mark of the second half. The Beavers had a great defensive game plan that really throw a wrench into The Cougar's offensive game plan (That game was covered from the OSU perspective on SB Nation's Building The Dam by ConnorOSU) The Beavers will need to execute their defense expertly in order to stop a powerful Washington Husky (11-3 overall, 3-0 in Pac-10 play) offense, that slowed a bit in Thursday's matchup against Oregon. The Huskies were able to recover and cruise to a 87-69 victory (Covered by SB Nation Seattle's Nate Parham here).
In the second game of an FSN Northwest triple header, the Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-5 overall) open up WCC play against the Portland Pilots (12-3 overall). The Bulldogs got off to a very rough start where they lost 5 of 7 games. While all of these losses were to very good teams (including nationally ranked teams like #3 Kansas State, #21 Illinois, and #23 Notre Dame), they came out of some of these games, most notably the trip they took to Pullman to play Washington State, looking dull and unprepared. Gonzaga has since picked up the pace and Coach Mark Few has whipped his team in to shape. Gonzaga is on a six game win streak, including a win in Texas against a nationally ranked Baylor team. The Bulldogs would love to stretch the streak to seven, but the Portland Pilots stand in their way. Portland has a five game win streak of their own. They only have three loses (two of which came to nationally ranked teams), but they lack a quality win, with their best victories lacking a "Wow" factor (victories to two 10-5 teams in Montana and Boise State top the list of the Pilots best wins). Gonzaga gives Portland a chance to truly show what they can do.
7:10 p.m.: Cal State Northridge Matadors @ Seattle University Red Hawks – No TV – 710 ESPN Seattle Radio
The very confusing Seattle U Red Hawks (6-11 overall) continue their home-stand at Seattle's former NBA home Key Arena with a matchup against Big West foe Cal State Northridge (4-10 overall, 1-2 in Big West). Seattle U boasts marquee wins over The Virginia Cavilers and the Oregon State Beavers, but also losses to teams like Cal Poly. This past Thursday Seattle U beat an Eastern Washington Eagle team by keeping intensity high and dominating the paint (SB Nation Seattle's Nate Parham covered that game here). Seattle U will have to find a way to stop The Matador's premier scoring duo in Lenny Daniel and Rashaun McLemore who average 16.4 and 16.2 points per game respectively (Third place on the team belongs to Vinnie McGhee with more than half of that at 7.2 PPG).
The northwest matchup between the Washington State Cougars (11-4 overall, 1-2 in Pac-10) and the Oregon Ducks (7-8 overall, 0-3 in Pac-10) will round out the FSN Northwest triple header. The Ducks hung tough with the nationally ranked Washington Huskies in Seattle on Thursday, but the potent offensive power of the Huskies was too much (That game was covered by SB Nation Seattle's Nate Parham here). Across the state, The Cougars ran into trouble with Oregon State. The Beavers cranked up the defense and put a press on Washington State that stunted their progress. Oregon State kept it close, but never took the lead and Klay Thompson ended up taking control to lead the Cougars to victory (SB Nation Seattle's own Jeff Nusser covered the game over at CougCenter). If the Cougars can get another shooting day out of Klay Thompson like he had on Thursday (29 points on 19 shots), Washington State should have no trouble with the Ducks.