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WCC tournament notebook: LMU plays role of Cinderella at WCC tournament

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 5:23 p.m. MDT

Ashley Hamilton of Loyola takes a shot while defended by Cole Dickerson of San Francisco during the West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Ashley Hamilton of Loyola takes a shot while defended by Cole Dickerson of San Francisco during the West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

LAS VEGAS — For the first time in its history, Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the nation, and the Bulldogs are looking to lock down a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

But so far, the biggest story of the West Coast Conference tournament is lowly, last-place Loyola Marymount.

The No. 9 seed Lions, who won only one WCC game during the two-month regular season, have doubled that win total in two days at the Orleans Arena.

LMU snapped a 14-game losing streak by knocking off No. 8 seed Portland Wednesday. Then Thursday, the Lions upset No. 5 San Francisco in overtime, 61-60.

That propelled LMU into the quarterfinals Friday against No. 4 Santa Clara. The Lions are one victory away from meeting top-seed Gonzaga in the semifinals Saturday night.

Head Coach Max Good of Loyola shouts instructions to his team as they play San Francisco during the West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Head Coach Max Good of Loyola shouts instructions to his team as they play San Francisco during the West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

The Zags, meanwhile, won't make an appearance at the WCC tournament until the semifinals.

Gonzaga (29-2) is riding a 12-game winning streak.

"They're good. They're one of the best teams we've played since I've been here," BYU coach Dave Rose said last week after falling to the Bulldogs at home, 70-65. "It's kind of comparable to the North Carolina team we played in Vegas a few years ago that ended up winning the national championship. … I hope we get a chance to play them again in Vegas."

The Bulldogs have won 12 regular-season WCC titles in 13 years.

However, the top seed in the WCC tournament has won the championship just twice in the last five years (Gonzaga in 2009 and Saint Mary's in 2012).

Loyola players celebrate near the end of the game as they pull ahead of San Francisco during the West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Loyola players celebrate near the end of the game as they pull ahead of San Francisco during the West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

WCC AND THE RPI: The Ratings Percentage Index is a factor considered by the NCAA selection committee to determine the NCAA tournament field.

Every Monday, the NCAA releases an official updated RPI ranking for all Division I teams.

Here's where WCC ranked as of last Monday: Gonzaga (9), Saint Mary's (37), BYU (59), Santa Clara (93), San Francisco (154), San Diego (182), Pepperdine (207), Portland (222) and Loyola Marymount (255).

WCC HOSTING NCAAS: For the first time in league history, the WCC will host NCAA tournament games.

The WCC plays host to the second and third rounds of the NCAA tournament March 21 and 23 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

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