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WCC Tournament Women's First Round Recaps

March 1, 2007

San Francisco - 80
San Diego - 69

PORTLAND, Ore. - San Francisco women seized a convincing 80-69 victory against No. 2 seed San Diego Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the 2007 West Coast Conference Tournament at the Chiles Center. The Dons (10-20) pull off their second upset win in as many seasons as the No. 7 seed and shocked the Toreros (21-8) who came into the conference postseason showcase after the best regular season in school history.

Junior guard Dominique Carter scored a game-high 23 points and connected on 11-of-12 from the free throw line, despite picking up three fouls early in the first half which limited her to just nine minutes in the first half. It was the 20th career 20-point game in Carter's career and the Tracy native added 21 points in the Dons 75-67 upset in the 2006 WCC Tournament opener against Gonzaga in Spokane. Sophomore guard Shay Rollins scored a career-high 21 points in perhaps her finest game in the Green and Gold.

Senior forward Nickie Warren scored 12 points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Nykia Peace chipped in 10 points, nine rebounds and dished out six assists. Playing in front of friends and family, junior center Lisa Olden enjoyed a strong game against a sizeable USD frontline, scoring eight points to go along with nine rebounds and a pair of steals.

"I am so proud of this team," USF head coach Tanya Haave said. "This was our best effort of the season and the timing could not have been better for us. Every time USD made a run we answered. This is a fantastic win for this team."

USF enjoyed a magical first half, connecting on 11-of-12 to open the game and made 14-of-17 before missing sevens straight shots, settling for a .607 (17-28) clip in the first half. Rollins led all scorers with 10 first half points, while Peace and Warren added eight apiece. The Dons broke out of a 7-7 tie with a Peace jumper at 16:13 and would not trail again in the contest. Senior center Breann Sitton hit a baseline jumper as time expired in the opening period to give San Francisco a 40-25 halftime lead.

San Francisco took its biggest lead of the game at 17 points, 44-27 with 19:06 left in regulation on a Peace jumper. The Toreros roared back on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to nine, 46-37 with 16:03 left, but the Dons recovered and bumped the lead back to 16 points, 55-39 courtesy of a 9-2 spurt, capped by a Rollins lay-up with 12:50 left.

San Diego would not go away as they cut the lead to six points, twice the last at the 4:50 mark. The Dons responded each time and answered with defensive stops and converted at the free throw line when it counted.

"My focus was to make sure we didn't get down," Rollins said. "So any time San Diego got the game to single digits, I tried as hard as I could to get the team together and tell them not to get down and keep our heads up."

Sophomore center Amber Sprague tallied a team-high 20 points, six rebounds and two blocks for USD, while sophomore guard Kelly Winther added 15 points. Senior center Sabine Loewe added 13 points, nine in the second half, while junior guard Amanda Rego added 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Toreros. San Diego made .446 (29-65) from the field, .514 (18-35) after the intermission.

After shooting at a torrid clip in the first half, USF cooled slightly in the second, finishing the game at .509 (29-57) from the floor. The Dons held a 40-31 rebound advantage, including 29-21 on the defensive end.

USF returns to action when it takes on No. 1 seed Gonzaga - a 68-55 winner against No. 8 seed Portland - Saturday, March 3. Game time is set for approximately 2:00 PM at the Chiles Center.

Gonzaga - 68
Portland - 55

PORTLAND, Ore. - In the first round of the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Gonzaga University women's basketball team, as the No. 1 seed, defeated the No. 8 team University of Portland 68-55 at the Chiles Center in Portland, Ore., Thursday afternoon.

The Zags, who have won seven-straight, improved their overall record to 22-9.

"I'm proud of the way we played," said head coach Kelly Graves. "It wasn't pretty but we made the plays down the stretch. We went inside the second half and that's our game. We're not a perimeter team. So now, we move on."

The Bulldogs went into the halftime with a slight 33-28 advantage. Freshman Heather Bowman finished the first half with 10 points, hitting 2-of-3 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Senior Stephanie Hawk, who added seven points, was a monster on the defense end, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three shots in the first stanza.

Gonzaga quickly built a 6-0 lead after back-to-back three-pointers by the senior tandem of Katy Ridenour and Hawk, but Portland used an 11-0 run to take the five-point advantage at the 15:52 mark. Anne Graner had five points during the run, while Rachel Warren added four points.

The Pilots held the lead until a layup by sophomore Jami Bjorklund knotted the game at 19-19. A free throw by sophomore Maria Hassett gave the Bulldogs back the lead for the first time since the 8:22 mark.

Gonzaga pushed its lead to eight, its largest of the half, after Bowman made a layup to make the score 29-21 with 3:57 left in the half.

The game continued to be close early in the second half, but with Gonzaga holding a 40-37 advantage at 14:26, the Bulldogs went on a 10-2 run to take an 11 point lead. Hawk made a layup, junior Rachel Kane drained a three-pointer, senior Simone Santos sank a free throw and hit a jumper and Bowman capped things off with a layup.

The offensive push from Gonzaga put Portland out of sync as the Bulldogs were able to extend their lead to 18; their largest of the game, after Santos converted an old fashion three-point play.

"In the second half we got the ball to these two (Heather Bowman and Stephanie Hawk). We were taking 8-10 footers, which is our game. Plus, we played better defense the second half. Defensively I love this team. We held (Jennifer) Dollente to four points."

Bowman finished the game with 19 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Hawk added 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks for Gonzaga.

"I think I had some nerves going in (to first tournament as a freshman)," said Bowman. "But once we got into the flow of the game the team relaxed. I don't think I was comfortable until we got up by 18.

Leading the way for Portland was Warren and Kendra Morris who scored 19 and 17, respectively.

The Bulldogs will play in the semi finals of the WCC Tournament on Saturday, March 3. Gonzaga will face the No. 7 seed University of San Francisco, 80-67 upset winners over No. 2 University of San Diego, at 2 p.m.

Loyola Marymount - 65
Santa Clara - 49

PORTLAND, Ore. - A strong second half was the key to LMU's 65-49 win over Santa Clara in the first round of the WCC Tournament this evening at the Chiles Center in Portland, Ore. LMU outscored Santa Clara 27-6 over the final 14:21 of the game, including a 17-0 run, to pull ahead for the win. Four players scored in double digits, led by Jennifer Hall who finished with 14 points. The Lions will play the winner of the Pepperdine-Saint Mary's game in the first semifinal game on Saturday at noon.

LMU improves to 18-11 on the season, while the Broncos wrap up the season with a 13-17 record.

It was a slow start for both teams as they combined to miss the first nine shots of the game. A layup by Ashley Graham at 16:51 broke the scoreless tie. The media timeout helped both offenses as they finally got things going. Valerie Ogoke scored three baskets in a row, and the Broncos got into foul trouble early. They had three players with two fouls by the second media timeout of the half.

A layup by Jessica Vargas gave LMU a 15-10 lead at 10:55, but the Broncos scored nine straight points to take a 19-15 lead at 7:13. A layup by Hall at 5:30 gave the Lions the lead back, 24-23, but the game stayed close for the next few minutes. The Broncos took a 34-28 lead, but the Lions scored the final four points of the half to make it a 34-32 game at halftime.

LMU shot just 29% from the field in the first half, while the Broncos made 51.6% of their shots. The difference came at the free throw line, as LMU made 12-of-14 shots and the Broncos did not attempt a shot from the charity stripe. Ogoke led LMU with 10 points, while Anna Martin had nine points for SCU.

The Lions struggled from the field to begin the second half, but a burst of energy allowed the Lions to battle back and take a 46-43 lead. Back to back steals by Vargas and layups gave LMU its first lead of the second half at 12:36. The Lion defense was able to stop the Broncos, as LMU went on a 17-0 run over six minutes to pull out to a double digit lead. SCU finally broke its scoreless streak with a layup by Ashley Gonnerman at 6:42 to make it a 55-45 LMU lead. Over the final 14:21 of the game, LMU outscored Santa Clara 27-6. Santa Clara never threatened in the final minutes, and the Lions secured the 65-49 victory.

Hall led all players with 14 points, while Amanda Patton added 11. Ogoke and Ashlee Dunlap each finished with 10 points. Dunlap led all players with 10 rebounds, recording her fourth double double in five games.

Kasey Monteith led Santa Clara with 10 points. Martin contributed nine points. Santa Clara shot 25% from the field in the second half, while the Lions shot 40.6%.

The Lions outrebounded Santa Clara 46-33, including a 28-16 margin in the second half. LMU finished with 22 offensive rebounds, while the Broncos grabbed just nine. Hall pulled down eight rebounds, and Sara Majors led SCU with eight rebounds.

LMU advances to the WCC Tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year and will face the winner of the Pepperdine-Saint Mary's game on Saturday at noon.

Pepperdine - 71
Saint Mary's - 67(OT)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Freshman Teena Wickett tossed in a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining in overtime to ice the Pepperdine Waves' 71-67 come-from-behind victory over the Saint Mary's Gaels in the quarterfinal round of the West Coast Conference Tournament Thursday night in Portland, Ore.

Pepperdine has now won four straight WCC tournament games dating back to last season's 3-0 run to the program's third tournament title. The Waves improve to 14-16 on the season, while Saint Mary's end the year 14-14.

"It was a well-fought game," said Pepperdine head coach Julie Rousseau, who improved to 5-1 in WCC Tournament games. "Our kids seemed to struggle all year in terms of fighting back from a deficit. In the second half, we just told them to stay positive and I thought they really responded. We're very proud of our players and proud of our effort. Saint Mary's is an incredible team."

Shannon Johnson did not score a point in the contest until she toed the free throw line with 23 seconds left in overtime. The Highland Village, Texas native buried both attempts to provide the game-winning points.

Pepperdine shot 50-percent in the overtime (4-for-8) and held Saint Mary's to 17-percent (2-of-12) and connected on all four of its free throws - all coming with less than 30 seconds on the clock - a stat Saint Mary's head coach Paul Thomas was quick to point out.

"The most important statistic is field goal percentage," noted Thomas. "We took four more shots than them in overtime, but we only made two of twelve. They were four for eight. There's your ball game right there. When the game counted in the last five minutes we did not shoot the ball well."

Wickett's 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting led all players, while Teiosha George recorded the fourth double-double of her career with an 18-point, 12-rebound performance. Daphanie Kennedy added 13 points for Pepperdine and Miranda Ayim pulled down 11 boards.

Maija Lahde scored 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds for Saint Mary's. Sheridan Arredondo and Serena Benavente had 14 points apiece and Ehosa Obaiza picked up 10 rebounds.

Pepperdine had a chance to win the game with 12 seconds remaining in regulation but George missed a potential game-winning layup. On the ensuing play, the Palmdale, Calif. native hustled back on defense to block Benavente's shot at the buzzer, keeping the score locked at 59.

Saint Mary's extended a seven-point halftime advantage to as many as nine on several occasions and controlled the tempo of the game during the early moments of the second half.

Trailing 45-39 with under eight minutes to play, Wickett hit a pair of free throws that started Pepperdine on an 8-2 run to tie the score at 47-all. The Waves took their first lead since 10:56 in the first half when two Ayim free throws put Pepperdine on top for good, 49-47.

The Waves extended their lead to as many as six as part of a 6-0 run but a Benavente trey with 2:06 to play pulled the teams even at 57-57.

Pepperdine led just twice in the first half and never by more than two points. But thanks to a solid defensive effort, the Waves never let Saint Mary's pull away as the Gaels' largest lead of the opening 20 minutes was just six.

The victory, combined with a 65-49 Loyola Marymount victory over Santa Clara sets up a rematch of last year's semifinal match-up between the Waves and the Lions. LMU won both regular season meetings against Pepperdine. Tip is scheduled for 12 p.m. PT Saturday at the Chiles Center.

Notes: The victory marked the third straight season Pepperdine has ended Saint Mary's season in the first round of the WCC Tournament ... Pepperdine improves to 16-12 all-time in overtime games and 3-0 on the season ... Pepperdine is now 2-2 in overtime in WCC Tournament play ... Pepperdine improves to 8-1 this season when scoring 70+ points ... Pepperdine is 18-5 under Rousseau when scoring 70+ points ... Pepperdine is now 18-11 all-time in the WCC Tournament ... Teena Wickett had 21 of her 23 points in the second half and overtime ... All five Pepperdine starters recorded at least one steal.