Ailing Mills likely back for WCC tourney

Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said Monday night that sophomore point guard Patty Mills will have surgery to repair a broken right hand Tuesday and, if everything goes well, could return for the final weekend of the regular season or the WCC tournament.

Mills broke his hand while driving past Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo during Thursday night's loss to the Zags in Spokane. Mills had scored 18 points at the time of the injury. Mills was a star for the Australian Olympic team this past summer in Beijing.

Saint Mary's went on to lose its next game at Portland. The Gaels (18-3, 5-2) end the WCC season at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine before the WCC tournament in Las Vegas.

Bennett said the Gaels proved in their first 19 games that they were a team worthy of an NCAA tournament bid. Bennett said the Gaels will play differently without Mills, perhaps bigger in his absence. The NCAA tournament selection committee may want to see Saint Mary's play at least one game with Mills when he returns before voting on the Gaels' selection during the bracketing process in Indianapolis.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.