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WCC Women's Basketball Recaps

Jan. 10, 2008

Gonzaga - 68
Pepperdine - 56

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University women's basketball opened West Coast Conference play with a 68-56 victory over Pepperdine University Thursday evening at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. The Bulldogs, who improved to 10-6 overall and 1-0 in conference, have now won five-straight WCC opening contests dating back to the 2003-04 campaign. With the loss the Waves fell to 5-9 overall and 0-1 in the WCC.

Gonzaga went into the halftime with a slight three point lead at 28-25 despite a sub-par performance. The Bulldogs hit 43.8% (14-32) from the field, but couldn't sink a three-pointer in the opening stanza, going 0-for-9. The Bulldogs were also outmanned on the boards, as the Waves grabbed 19, including eight offensive, while the Zags had 16 overall.

Leading the charge for Gonzaga in the first half was sophomore Heather Bowman and senior Michelle Elliott who had eight points apiece. Freshman point guard Courtney Vandersloot also dished out six of her nine assists for the Zags during the first 20 minutes.

The difference in the second half for the Bulldogs was the dynamic play of Vandersloot and Elliott along with their overall aggressiveness on the boards. Vandersloot scored 15 points in the final half, while Elliott had 14. Gonzaga also closed out the second half with 30 rebounds, 17 of which were offensive. Seven of the 10 Bulldog players had at least one offensive rebound during the contest.

The game changing moment of the contest was when Vandersloot and Elliott drained back-to-back three-pointers to break a 43-43 tie at 11:25. Gonzaga's first three-pointers of the contest sparked the Zags as they then went on a 14-7 run to take control of the game at 63-52 with 2:07 remaining in the game.

Gonzaga had three players close out the contest in double-figure points, including Vandersloot who posted a career-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor, including 1-of-3 on three-pointers and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. Vandersloot also dished out a game-high nine assists, her 11th game dishing out five or more assists and fifth in a row.

Elliott led the Bulldogs in scoring with 22 points. Bowman, playing in only her second game after missing five with an injury, registered 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

Gonzaga closed out the game shooting 39.1% (27-69) from the floor, was 15.8% (3-19) from behind the three-point arc and was 84.6% (11-13) at the free throw line. The Bulldogs dished out 14 assists as a team, had nine steals, three blocks and forced Pepperdine to turn the ball over 18 different times. The Zags also held the huge 46-32 advantage in rebounds, including the 24-13 edge in offensive boards.

Pepperdine was led by Katie Menton and Teiosha George who had 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Gonzaga will continue WCC action when it welcomes Loyola Marymount University to the McCarthey Athletic Center on Saturday, Jan. 12. Game time is set for 2 p.m.

Loyola Marymount - 73
Portland - 71

Portland, OR - Making her first career start, freshman Renahy Young scored a game-high 20 points, including the game-winning layup with 12 seconds left as LMU opened its West Coast Conference schedule with a 73-71 victory at Portland Thursday night at the Chiles Center in Portland, OR. The win is the ninth in a row for the Lions (9-7, 1-0 WCC) over the Pilots (10-6, 0-1 WCC).

In the first game of 2008, the Lions decided to shake up the lineup, giving Young her first career start and freshman Melanie Ysaguirre her second. The duo responded to combine for six of LMU's first eight points. The Lions were sharing the ball like never before with seven different players scoring in the game's first 11 minutes but the first 18 minutes was a tight affair, featuring nine ties and ten lead changes.

Young finished 9-for-15 from the floor for her third career 20-point game. Junior Jenna Sybesma came off the bench for 18 points, including a huge long three-pointer down the stretch, and sophomore Lisa Helmers chipped in 11. LMU shot 44.4% (32-for-72) overall and 50% (5-for-10) from three-point range.

Portland was led by Kendra Morris' 18 points, with Laiken Dollente adding 15, Rachel Warren 14, and Laura Thomas 12. Warren also had nine rebounds as the Pilots held a 40-35 edge on the boards. Portland shot 45% (27-for-60) for the game.

LMU built up a 14-point lead in the second half, only to see the Pilots mount a 24-10 run over the final 10 minutes to tie the game at 71 with 28 seconds left. After an LMU timeout, Young got the ball at the top of the key and penetrated, spinning in the lane to lay it in from the right side. Her game-winning basket behind her, Young then knocked the ball loose from Morris as Portland tried to set up a final play, forcing Morris to travel as she dove for the ball.

Neither team was able to pull away until the Lions rolled off a 14-4 run to take a 45-35 lead into halftime. They did it through the combination of Young and Sybesma, who scored 12 of LMU's final 14 points of the half. After a jumper by Sybesma broke a 31-all tie and Young followed with a free throw. Sybesma then used a myriad of spin moves on back-to-back possessions, the second resulting in a three-point play to stake the Lions to a six-point advantage, 39-33 with less than two minutes to go.

Portland's Laiken Dollente halted the mini-run with a pair of free throws but the final 82 seconds of the half belonged to Young, who drove the lane twice for layups and then stole the ball with five seconds left, racing the length of the floor. She missed the layup but freshman Aleyse Evans was there for the put-back at the buzzer to cap the Lions' highest-scoring half of the season.

Sybesma and Young were both in double figures at the half with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Helmers added eight as eight different Lions got on the scoresheet. Still, defense was the story of the first half, as LMU forced 16 Pilot turnovers, converting them into 17 points.

As hot as the Lions were to open the game, they missed their first six shots of the second and committed two turnovers to let the Pilots crawl back. Portland opened the half on a six-point run, four from Warren, to pull within 45-41 before a three-pointer by sophomore Kavita Goss stemmed the run.

Young continued to exploit the Pilots of the dribble, driving to the left and scooping for a three-point play and adding an identical play minutes later as she scored five of LMU's first 10 points of the half. Consecutive baskets by Goss then gave LMU its largest lead to that point, 59-47, with 11:21 to go. Seconds later, Ysaguirre used a nice up-and-under move to pad that lead to 14.

From that point, Morris got hot, hitting a pair of three pointers and two free throws to help Portland run off a 10-2 run that forced an LMU timeout and cut it to 63-57 with 5:50 left. A layup by Karlie Burris made it a four-point game but Sybesma got free for a layup for LMU's first basket in over four minutes. Dollente answered with a three from the wing to bring the Pilots within three.

After Morris knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game and bring an end to a 17-2 Portland run, Helmers stepped up with a huge three from the wing to give LMU a four-point cushion. Warren kept the Pilots coming with a long jumper before the Lions gained a fortuitous break. Young drove the lane but could not draw iron on her layup attempt. Sybesma grabbed the offensive rebound and dribbled out, unaware the shot clock had not reset. With less than a second on the clock, she threw up a 26-footer that banked in. Still, the Pilots were undeterred as Morris connected on a three. Helmers then turned the ball over and Dollente knocked down a baseline jumper with 28 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 71 for the first time since the four-minute mark of the first half.

In the end, the night would belong to Young. Following Dollente's jumper, LMU called timeout to set up a play and the freshman delivered.

LMU continues its road trip at Gonzaga on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a rematch of last season's WCC Championship Game.