March 2, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - Two seasons ago the University of San Francisco defeated the Gonzaga University Bulldogs in the final game in The Kennel. On Thursday night the Dons (9-19) put a damper on the Bulldogs (16-14) first shot at hosting the West Coast Conference Women's Basketball Tournament as USF won 75-67 to upset Gonzaga at home and end a nine game home winning streak.
San Francisco came out shooting a blistering 68 percent in the first half as the Dons opened a 34-25 halftime lead. LaShaunte Stephens hit all five of her first half shots scoring 10 points. Gonzaga was led by Ashley Anderson and Stephanie Hawk each with six first half points. The Bulldogs were dealt a blow six minutes into half as All-Freshmen honoree Jami Bjorklund was carried off the court after having several players land on her during a scramble for a rebound. GU was limited on offense to only 30 percent shooting.
"All season long we have won by playing good defense," stated Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves following the loss. "Tonight our defense let us down and give USF credit they took advantage of us missing one of our top defenders."
In two previous games this season Gonzaga was able to virtually shut down All-WCC performer Dominique Carter with Bjorklund and a combination of other players guarding her. In this game Carter was a dominant force with 21 points. Stephens also finished with 21 points for USF, hitting all eight attempts from the floor.
"I've said all along that Dominique Carter is one of the top players in our league," Graves added at the post game press conference. "When she wants to take over a game she has that ability. We were able to shut her down the first two meetings, but not tonight."
Gonzaga did make several runs at the Dons in the second half. The Bulldogs made their first charge, tying the game at 38-38 as Katy Ridenour went the free throw line and knocked down two. USF pulled back out by 10 points when Danae Wellander hit a lay-up with 8:46 left.
The Bulldogs continued to fight and closed to within three points when Anderson finished off a pair of free throws with 4:25 left. Anderson hit another lay-up with 2:10 left to close the lead to 61-56, but GU would get no closer.
Anderson led GU with 20 points while fellow senior Anne Bailey added 13. Bailey also pulled down 5 rebounds to increase her career total to 601, the 10th GU player with more than 600 career rebounds.
San Francisco will play No. 1 seed Santa Clara on Saturday afternoon while Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine will meet in the other women's tournament semifinal.