The Docket: Reeling Gaels Look To Rebound Against Visiting Dons


Avry Holmes and the USF Dons are tied for first place in the West Coast Conference at 4-1 heading into Saturday’s game at Saint Mary’s. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

This was not the way the West Coast Conference was supposed to look a couple of weeks in.

Gonzaga being tied for first place? Not a surprise. The Zags losing at Portland? That was a bit of a shocker.

But perhaps the biggest surprise is who Gonzaga is sharing first place with … the USF Dons. The Dons and Bulldogs each have 4-1 conference records (although USF’s loss was a doozy—a 69-41 thumping at the hands of Gonzaga in Spokane on Dec. 30.

But since then the Dons have won three games in a row. This isn’t how it was supposed to be when senior point guard Cody Doolin, a starter since his freshman year, walked off the team four games into the season. Since Doolin left, the Dons are 9-4 overall.

No, the team that would have been expected to be in the penthouse of the WCC is the Saint Mary’s Gaels. But after a 9-0 start, the Gaels can’t seem to get out of their own way. They’re 3-5 since that dazzling opening to the season and lost at home to Santa Clara on Thursday night—the first time in nearly seven years that the Broncos had won at Moraga—to fall to just 2-2 in conference play.

The Dons visit McKeon Pavilion Saturday afternoon having lost 16 straight to the Gaels overall and 10 straight at Saint Mary’s. The last time USF beat the Gaels was Jan. 16, 2006, and the last time the Dons won at Moraga was more than a decade ago—Feb. 8, 2003.

Tipoff is 3 p.m. Pacific. Saint Mary’s won at home last year 78-72 on Jan. 12.

Here’s the rest of The Docket for Saturday:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Santa Clara Broncos at Pacific Tigers, 1 p.m.
Santa Clara comes in off their buzzer-beating upset win at Saint Mary’s on Thursday and are 3-2 in the WCC, while the Tigers are the last winless team in conference play at 0-4 after an overtime loss at home Thursday to USF.

Santa Clara leads the all-time series between the teams 54-25 and has won the last two meetings, including a 75-71 win at Stockton on Dec. 15, 2012.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UC Davis Aggies at Long Beach State 49ers, 4 p.m.
The Aggies are just 2-17 against the 49ers all-time and have lost the last nine meetings dating back to an 82-76 win at Long Beach on Feb. 5, 2009.

Both teams are off to bad starts—UC Davis is 5-11 and dropped its Big West Conference opener Thursday at Cal State Northridge, while Long Beach State is just 4-11 and lost at home to UC Irvine 46-44 on Thursday night.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Cal Golden Bears at Oregon State Beavers, 5 p.m.
Cal is off to a 2-0 start in Pac-12 play after their upset win at No. 17 Oregon on Thursday, while the Beavers picked up their first conference win the same night over Stanford and are now 1-2 in Pac-12 action.

The Golden Bears have won three straight against Oregon State and swept two meetings last season, including a 60-59 win at Corvallis on Feb. 23. Cal leads the all-time series between the long-time rivals 66-56.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sacramento State Hornets at Southern Utah Thunderbirds, 6:05 p.m.
Both the Hornets and Thunderbirds are off to winless starts in Big Sky Conference play, so someone will get off the schneid Saturday evening. Southern Utah is 1-10 overall, with its lone win coming in their opener over NAIA Arizona Christian and have dropped its first two Big Sky games. Sacramento State is 0-3 in conference play and 4-8 overall.

Southern Utah leads the all-time series 12-6 and the teams split last season, with the Thunderbirds winning at home 79-67 on Jan. 31. Sacramento State’s lone win in Cedar City came on Dec. 17, 2005.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: New Mexico Lobos at San Jose State Spartans, 7 p.m.
The Lobos are one of three teams still unbeaten in Mountain West Conference play at 2-0, while the Spartans are 0-3 in their first foray through the conference after coming over from the Western Athletic Conference this season.

San Jose State has only played New Mexico six times, losing all six, and this will be their first meeting since Feb. 11, 1999. The only time the teams met in San Jose was an 82-81 Lobos victory on Jan. 13, 1999.

NHL: Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 7:30 p.m.
The Bruins come to San Jose leading the Atlantic Division with 58 points but having lost two straight. The Sharks, with 62 points are in second place in the Pacific and are coming off a strong performance in a win over the Red Wings on Thursday.

San Jose is 5-6-2 all-time against the B’s at home, including a 2-1 win in the last meeting between the teams at the SAP Center on March 22, 2012.