Less than a week ago — literally six days ago — I wrote a post off of No. 21 St. Mary’s loss to Gonzaga saying, essentially, that they could not afford to allow that game to trigger another late-season collapse.
Specifically, I wrote that “On paper, the Gaels look like a safe bet to win the WCC and cruise into the WCC Tournament with there at-large status solidified. But we could have said the same thing about the Gaels last season.”
Last year, the Gael’s saw their season get blown up when a loss to San Diego vaporized their confidence and sent them on a slide that ended with four losses in six games, a share of the WCC regular season title and a trip to the NIT.
This year, St. Mary’s got bumrushed by Gonzaga last week and followed that up with Wednesday night’s 75-60 whooping at the hands of Loyola Marymount. And while I would like to make the argument that this game was closer than the final score indicates, that’s not necessarily true; LMU had control for the majority of this game, holding the Gaels to just 38.6% from the floor and 6-28 from three.
Drew Viney led the way for the Lions with 17 points, as LMU moved to within two games of first place in the WCC standings. But more importantly, they made a statement: this is a team that can beat anyone in the league on any court. There’s an outside chance that WCC will be able to put four teams into the NCAA Tournament, and that’s because LMU has the ability to win the automatic bid.
But this post isn’t about LMU.
The Gaels close out their season with three straight road games. They head to Murray State on Saturday for the BracketBusters event and follow that up with trips to Portland and San Francisco next week. If St. Mary’s doesn’t get this thing figured out, they could easily drop two of the three games — if not all three — and find themselves, once again, playing for the WCC’s automatic bid to chase the dream of dancing.
I truly doubt that is something that Randy Bennett wants to have happen.
So … start winning games in late February. This problem will solve itself.