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January 20, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Northwest 11: Washington State on historic ride

BasketballHere’s the Northwest’s 11 weekly power ranking. The qualifying regional Division I 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 3

(Rank/Last Week/ School/Record: Comment)

1. (2) WSU (11-7, 5-1 Pac-12): The Cougs were one bucket from keeping their undefeated streak to open Pac-12 play going. G Tia Presley missed a late layup in the 59-57 loss to Utah on Sunday afternoon. WSU played without G Lia Galdeira due to a leg injury. She’s listed as day-to-day for the road trip to play at Oregon on Friday and Oregon State on Sunday. The Cougs are still off to an impressive start after a tough nonconference schedule. WSU defeated its third ranked team of the season in No. 21 Colorado (80-70) on Friday. WSU’s 5-1 start to the Pac-12 schedule ties the best start in program history through the first six conference games (1970-71, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1977-78, 1978-79).

2. (1) Gonzaga (16-3, 6-1 WCC): The Zags are back among the nation’s best, returning to the AP poll on Monday at No. 25. GU was tested, however. It blew an early 15-point lead at Santa Clara, needing 8-of-11 shots at the foul line in the final five minutes to preserve a 67-61 win on Sunday.

3. (4) Idaho (13-7, 6-0 WAC): The Vandals are, uh, vandalizing the Western Athletic Conference. UI scored 51 points in the opening half of a 96-69 victory against CU Bakersfield on Saturday. Idaho is 6-0 to begin conference play, a first since the 1981-82 season. It has now scored 90 or more points three times this season.

4. (7) Washington (10-7, 3-3 Pac-12): Found the spokesmodel for my “Free Throws Are Sexy” t-shirt campaign…Kelsey Plum. Yeah, she’s no Sue Bird at the line, but The Kid made 24 of 25 free throws in Washington’s past two wins. The shots helped keep UW in the game to pull out an overtime win against Utah on Friday and seal Washington’s upset against then-No. 21 Colorado on Sunday, attempting a school-record 19 free throws. Plum, a freshman, is shooting 85.7 percent from the line this season. Bird, who’ll enter her 12th WNBA season this summer, is an approximate 90 percent lifetime free throw shooter. You’ve got a ways to go Kid.

5. (3) Oregon State (10-7, 2-3 Pac-12): Sophomore C Ruth Hamblin, who’s 6-foot-6, recorded the program’s first triple-double in 30 years with 23 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocks in a win against Oregon last week.

6. (5) Portland (10-8, 3-4 WCC): Coach Jim Sollars announced his plan to retire at the end of the season, completing a 28-year career at Portland.

7. (7) Eastern Washington (8-8, 4-3 Big Sky): The Eagles played a nice defensive game to collect a 78-65 win against Sacramento State on Saturday. EWU held the visitors nearly 30 points fewer than their season-average, 93.1, that ranked third nationally.

8. (10) Seattle U (9-10, 4-2 WAC): Is it February, yet? The matchup against Idaho on Feb. 1 is Seattle U’s annual pink game to raise breast health awareness. Fans can contribute to the cause by visiting the team’s donation page. If $2,014 is raised, SU coach Joan Bonvicini will be pied in the face following the game.

9. (9) Boise State (8-8, 3-2 Mountain West): Sophomore F Lexi Der was named Mountain West Conference player of the week on Monday. She had her third double-double of the season with a team-high 19 points and 11 rebounds in a 67-66 win at Utah State on Saturday. Her 13 points in the second half, including a three-pointer with 25 seconds left, helped the Broncos win their first road game of the season.

10. (11) Portland State (5-11, 3-4 Big Sky): The Vikings open a three-game road trip at Southern Utah on Thursday.

11. (6) Oregon (9-8, 0-6 Pac-12): Coach Paul Westhead’s days at Oregon might be numbered. Ducks starting PG Ariel Thomas did miss Sunday’s loss at USC after suffering an ankle injury late in a loss at UCLA on Friday. Still, multiple injuries or lack of talent are no longer to blame for UO’s lack of production. Westhead is 59-84 in his five years at Oregon. This week’s games against the Washington schools are critical.

Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Polls | Topics: Joan Bonvicini, Kelsey Plum

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