By John Crumpacker
#WCCHoops Columnist John Crumpacker is onsite at the 2016 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships and will be providing exclusive content throughout from the men’s and women’s tournaments.
#WCCHOOPS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DAY TWO
SESSION FOUR DIGEST
It will be Hat Trick Time for No. 1 seed BYU and No. 2 Saint Mary’s as they prepare for their WCC Tournament women’s semifinal games against Santa Clara and San Francisco, respectively, on Monday.
The Cougars beat the Broncos twice during the regular season by scores of 68-63 and 70-63. The Gaels had a little easier time with the Dons as they posted wins of 78-68 and 72-59. Now the challenge is for the conference’s top two seeds to beat their Monday opponents for the third time this season in order to make it to Tuesday’s championship game.
“USF is a good side,’’ Saint Mary’s stalwart Lauren Nicholson said after pumping in 24 points in her team’s 85-71 quarterfinal win over Loyola Marymount. “It was a tough battle (during the regular season). We think we can win every game from here on. Playing defense will be the key to win.’’
Nicholson’s teammate (and fellow Aussie) Megan McKay contributed 13 points and nine rebounds against LMU as the Gaels pulled away in the third quarter by outscoring the Lions 31-17. The telling statistic: Saint Mary’s had a commanding 54-28 advantage in rebounding.
“As a freshman, I’m really nervous,’’ McKay said. “All the girls are trying to calm everyone. We keep reiterating how we have to play our normal game, protect the ball and play defense.’’
In its quarterfinal game, BYU limited Pepperdine to just six points in the second quarter on the way to a 72-59 victory and a third game vs. Santa Clara this season. All-WCC guard Lexi Rydalch was typically prolific for the Cougars as she scored 28 points and pulled down a surprising 12 rebounds. Her all-conference teammate, forward Kalani Purcell, fell two assists shy of a triple double as she recorded 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
“I’m really excited to play them,’’ Purcell said of the Broncos. “I don’t know if you noticed but I’m a physical player on the court. I like the matchup. I’m super excited for it.’’
The men show up
Friday’s nightcap at the Orleans featured the first men’s game of the tournament, No. 8 Loyola Marymount vs. No. 9 San Diego. Despite playing without their best player, forward Adom Jacko (unspecified injury), the Lions prevailed 64-61 with crazy-quick guard Brandon Brown scoring 20 points, including 10-for-10 from the free throw line. As a team LMU made 20 of its 24 free throw attempts.
Asked about Jacko, coach Mike Dunlap said, “Unless a miracle happens, he’s not available for this tournament.’’
By defeating San Diego, LMU (14-16) earned a shot at No. 1 seed Saint Mary’s (25-4) in a Saturday quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. The Gaels swept the Lions in the regular season.
“I think right now we’re playing our best basketball,’’ forward Steven Haney said. “We’re such a resilient group. We want to play for each other so bad.’’
Nice to meet you
The 2015-16 school year at BYU was notable for, among other developments, the arrivals of forward Kalani Purcell to the women’s basketball team and Kalani Sitake as the school’s new football coach. Given their first names, it seems the school should have set up a formal meet-and-greet: “Kalani, I’d like you to meet Kalani. Kalani, this is Kalani.’’
Or something like that.
After her team dispatched Pepperdine in a quarterfinal game, Purcell was asked if she had met Sitake yet.
“I met him once,’’ she said. “He was in a rush and it was like, ‘Hi,’ and ‘Hi.’ ‘’
Tweet was neat
Speaking of football, BYU women’s coach Jeff Judkins said he received a tweet from Ty Detmer, the football team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, before the WCC Tournament started.
“Ty Detmer sent me a nice tweet wishing us luck,’’ Judkins said. “It’s nice having the support of the football coaches.’’
The Pulse of the tourney
After BYU lost its final regular season game to Gonzaga 73-55, the Cougars could not wait to get back on the court and erase that memory by playing well in the WCC Tournament. BYU advanced to the semifinals by defeating Pepperdine.
“I was the most nervous, anxious I’ve been for a game in a long time,’’ BYU’s Makenzi Pulsipher said. “I definitely had those butterflies and a ton of energy, ready to go. My team was really excited to get on the floor.’’
Practice makes perfect
To prepare for the moment(s) when the WCC crowns its men’s and women’s champions on Tuesday, workers at the Orleans Arena on Friday let loose the confetti cannon to make sure the glittery stuff was propelled properly. No worries.
SESSION THREE DIGEST
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH BYU'S JEFF JUDKINS
After leading his No. 1 BYU women into the semifinals of the WCC Tournament, coach Jeff Judkins’ team won’t play again until Monday when it faces Santa Clara for a spot in the championship game.
With time not of the essence, Judkins ruminated on a variety of topics with WCCsports.com in Five Questions following his team’s 72-59 victory over Pepperdine.
Q: What will your schedule look like with two full days to prepare for Santa Clara?
A: Watch a lot of film. We don’t practice on Sunday. We’ll go to church. We’ll be as a team but we won’t talk a lot about basketball.
Q: Any initial thoughts on Santa Clara, a team you beat twice during the regular season?
A: Santa Clara is a very good team, very athletic. Their zone is really tough. They really work well together.
Q: San Francisco great Bill Cartwright is being inducted into the WCC’s Hall of Honor on Saturday. Your NBA career intertwined with his. What do you remember about playing against Big Bill?
A: He had the craziest foul shot you ever saw. You think there’s no way he’s going to make it and it goes in. People don’t realize what a player he was … how much he dominated. I think he was underrated.
Q: Did you ever face him in college when you were at Utah?
A: I did play him once in college when they were No. 1 (in 1976-77). They came in to play Utah and beat us pretty good. His college team was as good as anybody’s.
Q: What kind of a person was Cartwright away from the game?
A: Bill Cartwright is a class dude, how he handled himself on and off the court. He was a good guy, a down-to-earth good guy. I haven’t seen him in probably 20 years. I sure hope so (to see him here).
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH SAN FRANCISCO'S TAYLOR PROCTOR
With time running out in her team’s WCC Tournament quarterfinal game against San Diego and trailing by three, San Francisco’s Taylor Proctor had the ball at the top of the key beyond the 3-point arc.
Proctor awkwardly launched a shot that bounced against the backboard and dropped into the hoop to tie the game at 73-all and send it into overtime on Thursday night.
“I don’t practice that at all,’’ she said of the banked shot. “It’s usually a swish. I was thinking of drawing a foul, but the ball went in.’’
Thus buoyed, the Dons went on to win the game 84-80 to advance to the semifinals against Saint Mary’s on Monday afternoon. After the San Diego game, Proctor sat down with WCCsports.com to answer Five Questions.
Q: Have you ever had a shot like that before, that either won the game or sent it into overtime?
A: Yes, my freshman year against UTSA. I made a short jumper and we won in overtime.
Q: I imagine the shot against San Diego will take precedence over the one vs. UTSA given the circumstances, yes?
A: I’m definitely going to remember that one. That’s probably one of my most memorable ones, especially because it’s in the tournament against San Diego. This team is known for not ever giving up, especially in tournaments.
Q: In OT you grabbed a key rebound with seven seconds to go that seemed to indicate a greater desire on the part of you and your team. Was that the case?
A: It’s wanting it more. That’s what coach (Jennifer) Azzi says. We have to want it more, have the will to win. That definitely helped.’’
Q: With three days to go before your semifinal game, coach Azzi said the time will be spent mostly on work and not play. That doesn’t sound like much fun, especially being in Las Vegas, does it?
A: We do have fun on occasion. We still have fun.
Q: Like what?
A: Dinner at Z’s house (teammate Zhane Dikes, who is from Las Vegas). Z’s my best friend. She’s my sister. We have a bond most people don’t. She’s always there for me. I’m always there for her.