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San Diego, Gonzaga Roll In WNIT Openers

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EVANISTON, Ill. – The University of San Diego women’s basketball team held on for dear life, and claimed a 69-65 win over Northwestern University in the first round of the WNIT at the Welsh-Ryan Arena Thursday evening.

With the win, the Toreros improve to 24-7 overall, advance to the second round and will travel to play IUPUI on Saturday in a 4 p.m. (Pacific) game in Indianapolis. With the loss, the Wildcats finish the season 18-17 overall.

With USD leading by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter, the cold shooting Wildcats began to heat up in the final quarter, and slowly chipping away at the lead. The home team eventually pulled to within two at 67-65 with five seconds left. However, a pair of free throws from Cori Woodward helped seal the victory for the Toreros.

Malina Hood led all players with 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting from the field, while also pulling down seven rebounds. Sydney Williams was the second of four players in double figures, as he had 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field. Maya Hood notched a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Cori Woodward recorded 15 points.

As a team, USD shot 42.3% from the field, while the Wildcats shot 39.1% from the field. The Toreros out rebounded the Wildcats 41-34, but USD committed 22 turnovers, while NU had 12.

For the Wildcats, Nia Coffey scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds to post a double-double, while Ashley Deary added inn a team-best 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field.


Zags Advance to WNIT Second Round

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Gonzaga women's basketball team cruised past UC Riverside in the opening round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, 88-54, Thursday.

The Zags (19-13) matched their season-high scoring output and had their best shooting percentage (56.1) in the last two seasons. GU made 32 of its 57 shots from the field, including 10-of-22 from behind-the-arc. The Bulldogs also made 14 of their 17 free-throw attempts.

Jill Barta recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The freshman was 6-of-9 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Three other Zags reach double-digit scoring. Zhané Templeton matched her career-high with 16 points. The freshman made three of her four three-point shots. Chelsea Waters also made three three-pointers and scored a career-high 11 points. Laura Stockton finished with 10 points and a game-high five assists.

The Highlanders led 3-0 and 6-5 early in the game, but their leads totaled only 37 seconds. Gonzaga led 41-30 at halftime and dominated for the majority of the game.

The Bulldogs outrebounded UCR, 44-23, and had a 47-2 advantage in bench points. GU also had a 34-18 scoring advantage in the paint. UC Riverside's 54 points were its second-lowest output of the season. It entered the game averaging 78.6 points per game, which was 12th in the nation.

The Highlanders' 32 percent shooting from the field was their second-lowest percentage of the season. UCR was 4-of-16 from the three-point range and 12-for-16 from the free-throw line.

Rejane Verin led UC Riverside (23-9) with 17 points. She made 6 of her 13 shots from the field. Brittany Crain and Simone DeCoud contributed 13 and 11 points.

The Zags move on to the second round of the WNIT and will face the winner of Friday's Montana State and Utah matchup. The second round game will be at Gonzaga Monday at 6 p.m. Tickets are currently available for Monday's game. Visit GoZags.com/Tickets or call 509-313-6000 for ticket information.


Gaels Fall In Final Seconds Against Eagles
MORAGA, Calif. – The Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team rallied to take a fourth quarter lead late, but Eastern Michigan scored the final basket to defeat the Gaels 74-73 in the first-round of the Women’s NIT on Thursday night in McKeon Pavilion.

With SMC up by a point and EMU facing its last possession, the Gaels got a stop and what appeared to be defensive rebound, but the Eagles tied up SMC and was award the ball on the alternating possession.  EMU took advantage and scored on an offensive rebound with 1.8 seconds remaining.  SMC advanced the ball and a turn-around jumper by Sydney Raggio just rimmed out for the potential game-winner.

Devyn Galland scored a game-high 25 points with five rebounds and two steals.  Raggio added 19 points and 12 rebounds with six assists and four blocks.

Megan McKay added nine points and three rebounds while Carly Turner added seven points.  SMC played the game without starters Samira McDonald and Stella Beck.

Saint Mary’s ends the year with a 24-8 record, the second most wins in school history.  Eastern Michigan advances to play TCU.

Lauren Nicholson finished with an all-around game with six points, seven rebounds and five assists.  Nicholson finishes her SMC career with 1,374 points, which ranks 11th all-time.

The game started with Galland scoring eight of SMC’s first 10 points.  SMC led 12-10 at the first media timeout.  Back-to-back three-pointers by Hannah Kaser and Carly Turner pushed SMC ahead 18-13.  EMU hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to lead 21-20 after one.

EMU took a five point lead in the second quarter before an outside jumper by Raggio stopped the run.  Galland hit her third three-pointer of the game to tie the game at 27-27.  EMU scored the next eight points to lead 35-27 at the 5:35 mark.  Down by nine, the Gaels got to the free-throw line for the first time in the game with 2:17 remaining until half as Nicholson knocked down a pair of free-throws.  The Eagles would lead 38-33 at the break.

The Eagles started the third quarter with a three-pointer to take an eight point lead.  After trailing by nine, SMC scored six straight to pull within 48-45 at the 5:35 mark after a pair of McKay free-throws.  Turner found Raggio in the paint to get the Gaels within 53-51 at the 2:25 mark.  Galland connected on a three-pointer at the 1:35 mark to pull SMC within one.  EMU led 57-54 through three periods.  SMC shot 58.3 percent in the third period.

EMU started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to lead by six.  Down by as many as seven in the quarter, the Gaels scored six straight and continued their strong second half shooting to pull within 63-62 at the 5:14 mark.  Galland hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 65-65 with 4:30 remaining.

SMC grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter at the 3:45 mark as Raggio scored off an offensive rebound.  The Gaels run extended to 13-2 and an SMC four point lead.  EMU pulled within 69-68 before Nicholson drew a big charge against EMU at the 2:28 mark.  Galland blocked an EMU three-point attempt to get the Gaels the ball back with just under a minute remaining and a one point lead.

EMU took a 72-71 lead with 23 seconds left setting up SMC’s final possession. Galland hit a 20-foot jumper to push SMC ahead 73-72 with 14 seconds left.  The Eagles scored on an offensive rebound with 1.8 seconds left for which turned out to be the game-winner.  SMC advanced the ball and had a good look but the final shot lipped out.

EMU had four players in double-figures, led by Cha Sweeney with 19 points and seven assists.


Season Ends for Santa Clara After Loss in First Round of WNIT
FRESNO, Calif. – Playing in the postseason for the first time in 10 years, Santa Clara women's basketball fell to Fresno State 59-53 on Friday night in the first round of the WNIT.

Late in the fourth, Santa Clara (23-9) went cold and didn't score for 3:15. They committed three turnovers while going 0 of 4 from the floor and allowed Fresno State (22-11) to go on a 6-0 run and take a 58-52 lead that was took much to recover from.

"I'm disappointed with the outcome," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "I thought we made a valiant push in the second half and played more like ourselves. We played with a little more discipline in the second half as well. We had some contributions from everyone but we just didn't all play well enough to win."

A baseline jumper by Marie Bertholdt at the 5:52 mark had tied the game at 50-all. It was the first time the game had been tied since 4-4 with 5:56 to go in the first quarter.

Another jumper by Bertholdt made it 52-52 with 3:40 left before Santa Clara's late game struggles began.

Bertholdt scored 10 points and had a team-high eight rebounds to go with four steals.

Devin Hudson scored a team-high 11 on 4 of 5 shooting from the floor while Morgan McGwire scored 10 with seven rebounds.

The Broncos went on a 6-0 run over two minutes in the third to cut their deficit to 40-36 at the three-minute mark. It was the turning point that allowed the Broncos to tie the game late in the fourth.

"It was exciting to be able to put the ball in the hoop during that time," said Payne. "A big part of that run was when we were more aggressive. We took our foot off the gas in the fourth a little bit and that cost us."

Both teams struggled to take care of the ball with the Broncos committing 25 turnovers and Fresno State committing 17.

"We had some rust," said Payne. "Our conference tournament was a week before their conference tournament so it's been a while since we played. There were some jitters but it shouldn't have carried through the whole first half. We got gun shy at the end and it made us a little more hesitant, which doesn't work for us."

The Broncos did hold a 40-27 advantage on the glass.

"We had a good rebounding effort today," said Payne. "They were pretty even in the first half but in the second half we did a really good job and that helped us come back a little."

Bego Faz Davalos scored a game-high 21 points. She added seven rebounds, six blocks, and five steals.

Shauquanna Collins scored 14 while three other Bulldogs scored six each.

After hitting the first shot of the game, a 3-pointer by Savanna Hanson, Santa Clara missed its next four shots and Fresno State used a quick 7-1 run to take a 7-4 lead early on and would never trail again.