Some good games led to some great performances last night -- including a monster jam from Gonzaga's Elias Harris. Here are my Players of the Night out West for February 23:
ELIAS HARRIS | Gonzaga
19 points ... 16 rebounds ... 37 minutes ... 1 emasculating dunk in crunch time
In a must-have game for Gonzaga, Elias Harris was visibly hungry and attacked the rim/rebound whenever possible. His effort helped Gonzaga secure 2nd place in the West Coast Conference, good for a double-bye into the semifinals of the conference tournament. Not only was Harris causing problems on the boards and at the free-throw line, he threw down this other-worldly alley-oop from Kevin Pangos -- this dunk came shortly after BYU cut the lead to seven, and pretty much ended all hope for the Cougars. Gonzaga won 74-63.
DANIEL MULLINGS | New Mexico State
28 points ... 12 rebounds ... 10 assists ... 5 steals
If you missed it last night, New Mexico State shot 41-68 (60%) and scored 115 points on Hawai'i. Key in the effort was Daniel Mullings, who added 5 steals to a triple-double and shot 11-15 from the field. Insane work.
DAMIAN LILLARD | Weber State
30 points ... 8 assists ... 5-10 3PT ... 1 turnover
The nation's most efficient player had another strong game in Greeley, helping Weber State take care of Northern Colorado 88-71. Lillard had the deep ball going and also made 13-14 free throws, causing NoCo guards fits getting into the paint. The 30 points and 8 assists came in just 31 minutes, somewhat low for Lillard. He also committed just one turnover in 31 minutes of point guard play, a turnover that came on a rather bogus offensive foul call when a defender moved under him and into his landing spot after he was already airborn. The Bears will probably be glad to be done with Weber State and Lillard -- he averaged 32.5 points against them while Weber averaged 90.5 ppg.
CHARLES ODUM | Portland State
38 points ... 5 rebounds ... 11-16 FG ... 5-8 3PT ... 11-12 FT
In a near must-win for Portland State, with places 3-7 so tightly packed before the night began, guard Charles Odum went off on Sacramento State and cemented PSU's bid to the Big Sky tournament. The big win gives the Vikings current claim to the 3-seed, which would mean hosting a first-round tournament game and avoiding the conference champ until the title game (if the Vikes get that far).
KEVIN OLEKAIBE | Fresno State
43 points ... 12-25 FG ... 14-14 FT
Olekaibe barely registered any stats other than points, but he was pouring it in and was perfect at the foul line. Fresno needed every one of his points in a 78-72 win over Seattle in non-conference play.