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January 6, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Northwest 11: Gonzaga faces big week in conference play

BasketballIn this new Monday feature, I’ll take a look at the Northwest’s 11 Division I teams and give a weekly power ranking. The regional schools are Washington, Washington State, Seattle U, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Portland, Portland State, Idaho and Boise State. Idaho State will not be included due to Pocatello’s more eastern location.

NORTHWEST 11 WEEK 1

1. Gonzaga (12-3, 2-1 WCC): The WCC has worked hard to build parity within its conference and whether this is the season for it to blossom could be determined this week. The Zags face a competitive lineup in hosting BYU on Thursday and undefeated San Diego on Saturday. The Toreros (15-0, 4-0) defeated now-No. 24 Arizona State to open the season and Saint Mary’s, 80-70, last week. It jumped into the AP poll at N0. 24 on Monday, the program’s first-ever ranking. GU’s sole conference loss was 79-78 in overtime to SMC. So, somebody is good in this conference, maybe two teams are among the nation’s best. But who is it really?

2. Washington State (8-6, 2-0 Pac-12):  The Cougs collected its second win against a nationally ranked team, beating No. 24 Arizona State 85-78 in a sweep of the desert schools last weekend. Will that matter in basketball’s Apple Cup this week? WSU has a 36-game losing streak against UW.

3. Oregon (9-4, 0-2 Pac-12): It’s befuddling how you can have the nation’s top rebounder (Jillian Alleyne at 14.3 boards) and sixth-best scorer (Chrishae Rowe at 24.5 points) and still lose — unless you give your opponent more FT opportunities. That’s what happened in UO’s heartbreaking 101-98 overtime loss to then-No. 23 Cal on Sunday. The Bears attempted 16 more FTs, junior G Brittany Boyd making 3 of 4 in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory.

4. Idaho (9-7, 2-0 WAC): Australian junior G Stacey Barr was named the WAC player of the week after averaging 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5.5 assists as Idaho opened conference play undefeated for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

5. Portland (8-6, 1-2 WCC): Are the Pilots that good? In the end, probably not. Have they beaten UW, WSU, SU, EWU and PSU by an average of 13 points and nearly top OSU? You betcha!

6. Oregon State (8-6, 0-2 Pac-12): The Beavers’ lost their past three games to nationally ranked teams but only three of their eight wins are against teams with winning records.

7. Washington (8-5, 1-1 Pac-12): UW’s roster is getting healthier. Freshman posts Katie Collier (hamstring) and Chantel Osahor (stree fracture) returned for the opening of conference play last weekend while three-point specialist Heather Corral (knee) could return later this month.

8. Eastern Washington (6-6, 2-1 Big Sky): The Eagles really turned around an 0-5 start to the season, including a a buzzer-beater to top Idaho 85-84.

9. Boise State: (5-7, 0-1 Mountain West): The Broncos have lost four of their last five games. Freshman wing Brooke Pahukoa (Lake Stevens HS)  is averaging 7.2 points and 2.5 rebounds as a starter.

10. Seattle U (6-9, 1-1 WAC): The Redhawks finished a tough five-game road trip that stretched across the holidays at 2-3. SU’s first game at Connolly Center since November is Thursday against New Mexico State.

11. Portland State (4-8, 2-1 WCC): The Vikings have lost five their past seven games.

0 Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Polls | Topics: Cal, Chantel Osahor, Heather Corral

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