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WCC Tournament Women's Semifinal Recaps

March 3, 2007

WCC Tournament Championship Game
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Loyola Marymount - 1:30 PM (PT)
Chiles Center - University of Portland

Gonzaga - 59
San Francisco - 38

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team, looking to win its first West Coast Conference Tournament title and first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, stepped one inch closer as it defeated the University of San Francisco 59-38 in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament Saturday afternoon at the Chiles Center in Portland, Ore.

The Bulldogs, who are the No. 1 seed in the tournament, will now face off against Loyola Marymount University, the No. 3 seed, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for the tournament title. LMU defeated Pepperdine University 64-61 in overtime in the first semifinal of the day.

With the win, Gonzaga improved its overall record to 23-9, while San Francisco closed out its season with a 10-21 record.

"I want to give credit to USF and head coach Tanya Haave with the good job she has done," said head coach Kelly Graves. "She is a good coach and will be good for our conference. And Dominique Carter is good. But we have the Carter Buster in Jami Bjorklund. It seems like she always draws the top defensive assignments and she did a good job on her. Last week we got out-rebounded by nine boards against USF and that was one of our focuses this week."

It was Bjorklund who helped Gonzaga to a 32-21 halftime lead. The 5-11 guard finished the first half with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. The Spokane native also held San Francisco's Carter, the Dons leading scorer, to five points in the first stanza. Carter was only able to get three shots off, hitting on one.

The Bulldogs were sizzling as a team in the first half, sinking 45.2 percent (14-31) of its shots. Along with Bjorklund, senior Stephanie Hawk, who hit 3-of-5 shots, was solid all around for GU chipping in eight points, four rebounds, one assist and two blocks in the opening half.

With the game knotted at 16-16 with 10:05 remaining before half, Gonzaga went on a 10-3 run to break open a seven-point advantage at the 4:00 mark. Sophomore Sasha Polishchuk hit two jumpers during the Zags run, while Hawk, Bjorklund and senior Katy Ridenour also hit jumpers.

The Bulldogs took their largest lead of the half when Bjorklund hit a jumper with three seconds remaining to give Gonzaga its 11-point halftime advantage.

Gonzaga came out flying in the second half scoring 11 points over the first six minutes, while limiting San Francisco to just two, to extend its lead to 20 at 43-23. The Bulldogs held the Dons to 1-of-12 shooting during this span. USF's only points came off a fast break bucket by Carter at the 18:44 mark.

The Zags largest lead in the second half was 28 at 59-31 with 2:43 remaining in the game. With the score 49-31, Gonzaga hit six consecutive jumpers, including four by Bjorklund, to gain the lopsided edge.

Bjorklund finished with a game-high 20 points, along with four rebounds and two assists. Freshman Heather Bowman added 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while junior Rachel Kane dished out a season-high eight assists and added five points, eight rebounds and one block.

"Everyone contributed today," said Bjorklund. "I got some great screens and it was a total team effort. Defensively it was a team effort too. I had the assignment (on Carter) but if I get beat there's somebody there to help out, and we also do a lot of trapping."

San Francisco was led by Cater and Nykia Peace who both finished with 11 points a piece.

LMU - 64
Pepperdine - 61 (OT)

PORTLAND, Ore. - The LMU women's basketball team got a taste of revenge this afternoon, defeating Pepperdine 64-61 in overtime in the WCC Basketball Tournament Semifinals to advance to the Championship game on Sunday. The Lions led by as many as 21 points in the first half, but the Waves battled back in the second half to force overtime. LMU played strong defense and hit key free throws in the extra period to pull out the win. The Lions will face Gonzaga in the championship game on Sunday at 1:30pm. The title game will be broadcast live on CSTV.

The game was eerily similar to last year's WCC Tournament semifinal game between the Los Angeles rivals, as Pepperdine pulled out the 59-58 victory and eventually won the tournament championship. This year, the Lions were able to exact a little payback with the win.

LMU has now won six straight games and improves to 19-11 on the season. Pepperdine concludes its year with a 14-17 record.

Both offenses struggled in the opening minutes of the game, as they combined to turn the ball over seven times and miss the first nine field goal attempts. The only points of the opening minutes came on free throws by Ashlee Dunlap. Valerie Ogoke scored a short jumper at 15:53 for the first field goal of the game. The Lions pulled out to an 8-0 lead before the Waves were able to score their first basket at 14:12. LMU responded with a three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring by Kavita Goss.

Once the Lions hit their first field goal, their offense was clicking on all cylinders. Between the first media timeout and the second media timeout, LMU shot 6-for-9 from the field to pull out to an 18-4 lead. A three pointer by Amanda Patton and a wide open layup by Dunlap extended the lead to 23-4.

After nearly a six minute scoring drought, Pepperdine finally scored, getting seven straight points to make it a 25-11 game. But the Lions answered with a driving layup by Jenna Sybesma and another layup by Jennifer Hall to extend the lead to 29-11 at 3:47. A pair of free throws by Patton and a floater by Goss gave LMU a 20 point lead, 33-13.

Pepperdine scored the last five points of the half to cut the lead to 33-18 by halftime. A three-point play by Shannon Johnson insured that the Waves would score more than the 15 points they scored in the first half in the first meeting between the two schools in January. The 15 points tied a program-low for points by Pepperdine.

Over the last 40 minutes of basketball, LMU has allowed 33 points (15 in the second half of Thursday's first round win over Santa Clara).

The Waves started the game making 2-of-20 shots, but finished by shooting 8-for-33 (24.2%) for the half. The Lions made 50% of their shots and were led by Patton with eight points. Dunlap added seven points with eight rebounds in the first half. The Lions outrebounded Pepperdine 24-12.

Pepperdine scored the first six points of the half to cut the lead to 33-24 in less than two minutes. LMU opened the half with four straight turnovers. A jumper by Dunlap at 16:39 gave LMU its first points of the half and a pair of free throws by Patton gave LMU a double digit lead again.

The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes and the Waves cut the lead to six points on a layup by Wickett, but Ogoke answered with a pair of free throws to give the Lions a 49-41 lead at 8:21.

Turnovers plagued the Lions, and helped Pepperdine chip away at the lead, cutting it to 49-47 at 5:13 on a fast break layup by Miranda Ayim. A three-pointer by Ross at 4:02 gave Pepperdine its first lead of the game.

LMU was held without a point for nearly five minutes, but a pair of free throws by Amanda DeCoud broke the scoreless stretch and gave the Lions the lead back. A steal and layup by Cassady Moore on the next Pepperdine possession gave the Lions a 53-50 lead and forced the Waves to call a timeout.

A layup by Kennedy and back to back baskets by Teoshia George gave the Waves the lead back 56-53.

A basket by Dunlap at 1:27 cut the lead to one. LMU was unable to get a good shot off on their next possession, and the Waves got the ball back with 35 seconds on the clock. After a timeout at 0:27, DeCoud stole the ball from Kennedy and drove the length of the court. She was fouled by Kennedy and converted the first free throw to tie the game, 56-56. She missed the second and the Waves recovered the rebound. Pepperdine called timeout to set up what appeared to be the final play of regulation. Moore and DeCoud deflected the ball and drove the length of the basket. Moore missed the layup, but the ball went out of bounds off of Pepperdine to set up the final play with five seconds on the clock. Patton's three-point attempt at the buzzer missed to send the game into overtime.

George hit a pair of free throws to give Pepperdine the first lead of the second half, but Ogoke tied it up with a pair from the charity stripe at 2:39. Patton gave LMU a two point lead with free throws, but George converted a three-point play to give the Waves a one point lead. Hall scored on a putback at 0:54 to give LMU the 62-61 lead.

Kennedy missed a jumper with 25 seconds on the clock and Jessica Vargas grabbed the rebound. DeCoud was fouled with 23 seconds, and she made one of two free throws to put LMU up 63-61.

LMU's defense smothered Pepperdine in its next possession, and the Waves were unable to get a shot off before turning the ball over in the paint. Hall recovered the ball and was immediately fouled with 0:04 on the clock. She missed the first free throw but made the second to give LMU a 64-61 lead.

Pepperdine struggled to get the ball in play on their final possession, and lobbed it up. Ogoke recovered the ball and LMU ran the clock out for the win.

Patton finished the game with 15 points, including three three-pointers. She now has 66 for the season, and is just one away from tying her own record for single season three-pointers at 67.

Dunlap recorded her fifth double double in the last six games, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Ogoke added 10 points and nine rebounds, hitting big free throws down the stretch, and Hall had nine points and nine rebounds.

George and Kennedy led Pepperdine with 14 points each, and Johnson added 12. Wickett finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, to go along with six points.

After shooting so well in the first half, the Lions finished the game shootin 37.7%, including 16.7% in overtime. However, they were able to convert six free throws that turned out to make the difference.

Pepperdine shot 60.7% from the field in the second half, and finished the game shooting 39.4%.

The Lions advance to the championship game for the first time since 2004, when they defeated Gonzaga to win the program's first ever WCC title. They will face Gonzaga in the championship game which will be aired live on CSTV at 1:30pm.