Mills out four weeks with broken hand

Updated: January 30, 2009, 3:59 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Saint Mary's dream season took an unforeseen turn Friday as the Gaels learned that leading scorer Patty Mills broke his right hand in Thursday night's loss at Gonzaga.

Mills suffered a clean break and is expected to miss four weeks. The point guard and Olympian for Australia was examined by Gonzaga team doctors Friday morning and the break was discovered through X-rays. Mills will make a decision later today whether to let the break heal on its own or have a pin placed in the hand to try to speed his recovery.

Mills will either fly with the team from Spokane to Portland for Saturday's game against the Pilots or return to Moraga, Calif., for surgery.

Behind Mills' 18 first-half points, Saint Mary's (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) built a lead over Gonzaga (No. 25, No. 20) and led 39-33 at the break. With about three minutes remaining in the first half, after driving past defender Jeremy Pargo, Mills slipped and landed on his right hand.

The Gaels (18-2, 5-1) weren't the same in the second half and lost 69-62 to the Zags (15-4, 6-0) in a showdown between the WCC's two title contenders. The two teams will meet again on Feb. 12 in Moraga, but Mills likely will be sidelined for that game.

Mills tried to practice his shot in second-half warmups but said he felt pain in the hand, Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. Mills stayed on the bench and iced his hand for the rest of the game.

"It's going to be an adjustment" without him, said Bennett, who cited privacy laws for not discussing the injury in detail. "It's not just the points, he's a monster leader for us. Everybody has to play with confidence without him. It's not just the Xs and Os, it's the leadership. It will take 11 guys to get this done."

Mills, who is projected as a potential lottery pick if he leaves the Gaels after this, his sophomore season, was averaging 18.7 points and 3.9 assists a game. Carlin Hughes, a senior teammate and fellow Australian, likely will handle a lot of the point guard duties in Mills' absence.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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