While Pac-10 fans were left wondering what USC was think/doing in their 59-46 NCAA Play-on game loss to Virginia Commonwealth, the conferences' three teams that were in action Wednesday in the CBA and NIT tournaments all delivered wins.
Oregon, playing in their first CBI, downed Weber St. 68-59 in front of a crowd of 4,375 in Matthew Knight arena. The Ducks got a huge, 24 point, 12 rebound effort, game highs in both categories, from Joevan Catron. Half of his scoring damage was done from the free throw line, where Oregon's big center made 12 of 13 attempts.
E.J. Singler added 16 points, including another solid effort from the free throw line, where he hit all 7 of his shots. Overall, Oregon shot 89% at the line, knocking down 23 of 26, and the Ducks' ability to get to the line, and take advantage once there, was the difference. The Wildcats were only 5 of 11 in contrast.
Weber St. (18-14) was led by Scott Bamforth's 17 points, one of three Wildcats in double figures.
Close most of the way, Weber St., the third place team from the Big Sky Conference, led 28-26 at halftime. A 9-0 run early in the second quarter sparked the Ducks, though they never led by as many as 9 points until Catron and Singler hit free throws in the final minute.
Oregon improved to 17-17 for the season, and will host Duquense Monday night at 7 PM PDT. The Dukes (19-12), who finished in a tie for 4th. in the Atlantic 14, upset Big Sky #2 Montana 87-76 Wednesday night on the Grizzlies' home floor.
Washington St. won their first round NIT game in Pullman, downing Long Beach St., the regular season Big West Conference champions, 85-74. The Cougars (20-12) got 25 points from Klay Thompson, and 14 more from DeAngelo Casto, and overcame a 25 point performance by the 49ers' Casper Ware.
The Cougars didn't score for nearly 3 minutes to start the game, until a Thompson 3 pointer, but then led the rest of the way. After building a 36-18 halftime lead, the Cougars saw Long Beach St. come out with an 18-5 run, but that was as close as the 49ers got.
Washington St. will host Oklahoma St. (20-13) Monday night at 8:30 at Friel Court. The Cowboys, who finished 9th. in the Big XII, a league where only 2 of 12 teams had losing records, defeated Harvard 71-54.
Allen Crabbe added 20 points for Cal, and Harper Kamp, playing a day after receiving IV treatment for the flu had 11 more, as the Bears had to compensate for the absence of starting center Markhuri Sanders-Frison, and for a while, his replacement Richard Soloman, who suffered a bloody nose. Chris Warren had 23 points for Ole Miss (20-14).
Cal took a 10 point lead early, but Mississippi was back within 2 points by halftime, trailing only 41-39. The Bears opened another 10 point lead, on a Kamp jumper, with 5 minutes left, but the Rebels rallied again, getting within one point on a Warren layup in the last minute, and again, after a Kamp basket, on two free throws by Terrance Henry, with 18 seconds left. Gutierrez did what Gutierrez does, though, getting to the line, and hitting the free throws.
The Golden Bears (18-14) hit the road for a game Friday evening at 6:30 in Boulder, Colorado, against future Pac-12 opponent Colorado. The Buffalos (22-13), one of the teams deemed to have been snubbed by the NCAA, despite three wins over Kansas St., and also wins over Texas and Missouri, all Big Dance invitees from the Big XII, took out their frustrations with an 88-74 win over Texas-Southern (19-13), the regular season champions of the South West Athletic Conference (SWAC).
Colorado, who tied for fifth in their last Big XII campaign, is one of four top seeds in the NIT. The Buffalos got 27 points from Alec Burks, and 25 more by Cory Higgins, as Colorado led the rest of the way after the Tigers had scored the game's first basket.