March 4, 2006
Pepperdine - 59
LMU - 58
Spokane, Wash. - Sophomore guard Daphanie Kennedy scored a game-high 18 points to lead a group of four Pepperdine players in double figures to help the fourth-seeded Waves hold on for a 59-58 victory over No. 2 seed Loyola Marymount Saturday afternoon to advance to the championship game of the West Coast Conference (WCC) Tournament in Spokane, Washington.
Pepperdine (13-16) will be making its fifth appearance in the championship game and first since 2003 when the Waves defeated Santa Clara, 69-57, at San Diego's Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Pepperdine will once again face the Broncos, who defeated San Francisco, 75-65, in Saturday's second semi-final game. Pepperdine and Santa Clara will tip-off at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be shown on a tape-delayed basis beginning at 5 p.m. on ESPNU.
The winner is crowned the WCC Champion and earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Waves survived a late scare from Loyola Marymount (17-12), which rallied from a five-point deficit with 1:39 remaining to twice cut the margin to a point.
The Lions got to within one with :13 remaining on a jumper by Amanda Decoud that made the score 57-56. After a pair of free throws by Kennedy gave the Waves a three-point lead with :10 remaining, Loyola Marymount had a chance to tie the score with :03 remaining.
LMU's Amanda Patton was fouled behind the three-point arc by Teiosha George, giving the Lions' guard three free throws. Patton calmly sank the first two before Waves' head coach Julie Rousseau called a timeout.
Following the timeout, Patton missed the third attempt and the ball went out of bounds off Pepperdine with :02.2 remaining, giving Loyola Marymount a chance to win the game.
However, Patton missed a three-point attempt from along the left baseline as time expired.
The contest marked the second time this season that the Waves and Lions had a game decided in the closing seconds. Loyola Marymount defeated Pepperdine, 50-48, on a buzzer-beater in Malibu on January 28. The three games between the two teams were decided by a total nine points with the Waves winning twice.
Saturday's game had seven lead changes and eight ties with the largest lead by either team coming in the first half when Pepperdine led 23-13 with 7:01 remaining.
Pepperdine held a 28-24 halftime lead as it shot 40.7 percent (11-for-27) from the field and out-rebounded Loyola Marymount, 21-18. The Lions shot 32.1 percent (9-for-28) from the floor.
Freshman guard Sherriel Boyd led the Waves with seven first-half points.
Boyd finished the game with 10 points while George totaled 11 points and eight rebounds, and Jasmane Clarendon chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Forward Ashlee Dunlap led Loyola Marymount with 13 points while Bianca Ziemann and Valerie Ogoke added 10 points apiece.
Santa Clara - 75
San Francisco - 65 (OT)
SPOKANE, Wash. - Chandice Cronk must not believe in fairy tales, because her three-pointer with 3.1 seconds left sent today's WCC semifinal between the Santa Clara Broncos and the San Francisco Dons into overtime, where SCU closed the book on USF's Cinderella run in the tournament with a 75-65 overtime victory.
"This is what March is all about," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson following the game. "It wasn't a pretty game in the first half, but both teams competed extremely hard and obviously it comes down to players making plays.
"We ran a play to [Michelle] Cozad coming off a screen, and we knew [the USF defense was] going to switch, so we had Chandice and Kayla [Huss] popping out on the top," Bento-Jackson continued, describing the plan for the final shot in regulation. "I made it clear to the team that Michelle would not be open, not to force [the shot] and to swing the ball. Chandice was about as open as she could be."
With the win, Santa Clara advances to tomorrow's WCC Championship game against the fourth-seeded Pepperdine Waves at 1 p.m. Tomorrow's title game will be aired on ESPNU on a tape-delayed basis at 5 p.m. Pacific.
Cronk finished the game with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
"I knew it was good the second it left my hand," Cronk said about her game-tying three. "That was probably the biggest shot of my entire life."
Michelle Cozad led all Broncos with 18 points, and also grabbed seven rebounds. Tracey Walker pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds while Kayla Huss scored 16 points and dished out four assists.
Riding the momentum from Cronk's heroics, Santa Clara controlled the extra session from the start. On the strength of five points from Kasey Monteith and four from Walker, the Broncos outscored the Dons 17-7 in the extra period to advance to tomorrow's WCC title game.
Things looked good for the Broncos at first, as Cozad and Huss paced an 11-2 run in the first four minutes. But the Dons recovered from their sluggish start and behind the play of Carter rode a 15-1 run to a five-point lead in the next five minutes.
Turnovers and San Francisco's zone scheme plagued Santa Clara for much of the game, as in one first-half stretch SCU scored only five points in a span of 8:05 following their hot start. Fortunately for the Broncos Cronk brought a hot hand off the bench and scored seven-straight points to end the SCU drought and provide the team a 21-19 lead.
"Today I felt that a lot of our turnovers were unforced," Bento-Jackson said regarding Santa Clara's turnovers. "We were playing a little tight and making uncharacteristic decisions on the offensive end."
From that point the teams combined for only 12 points in the final 5:05 of the half, including three-pointers by Huss and USF's Shay Rollins in the final minute to send the teams into the break tied at 26-apiece.
The second half continued to be a back-and-forth affair as neither team led by more than four through the first 11 minutes. For the game, there were eight lead changes and the score was tied a total of nine times.
Santa Clara held a 43-40 lead following a Cozad three but the Dons answered with seven consecutive points, capped by a Carter three, to take a 47-43 lead. Carter added a baseline jumper moments later to give USF its largest lead of the day at 51-45.
With just over a minute remaining a Cozad driving lay-up brought the Broncos to within one, but LaShaunte Stephens banked in a jumper with only a second left on the shot clock to put USF back up by three.
That set the table for a wild final 32 seconds, which saw Santa Clara miss a three-pointer but retain possession when USF knocked the rebound out-of-bounds. A Cozad drive failed to yield a call, and the ensuing melee for the rebound resulted in a jump-ball call which gave the Dons possession with 6.3 seconds left.
San Francisco, though, fumbled the inbound pass and allowed Santa Clara to create a tie-up which gave the Broncos one final opportunity with 5.2 seconds showing on the clock.
Cozad, double-teamed as soon as she received the inbound pass, got the ball to Huss who found Cronk just right of the top of the key with a clear look. The Wasilla, Alaska native hit nothing but net to send the SCU contingent in the stands into a frenzy as the game went into overtime.
With a new lease on life this season, Santa Clara will face the Pepperdine Waves, who they defeated twice in the regular season, in tomorrow's WCC title game. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.