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WCC Women's Basketball First Round Recaps

March 6, 2008

Gonzaga - 77
Pepperdine - 67

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team earned a 77-67 victory over Pepperdine University in the first round of the West Coast Conference Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego Calif. WCC Player of the Year Heather Bowman paced the No. 1 Bulldogs to the win over the No. 8 seeded Waves with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.

The Zags, who finished the WCC season with a 13-1 mark, improved their record to 23-7 overall, while the Waves ended their season at 10-18 overall.

"First off I'd like to congratulate Pepperdine head coach Julie Rousseau," said Bulldog head coach Kelly Graves. "I have a lot of respect for her. Pepperdine is the best eighth seed in the history of this conference. They are talented and once they got healthy they were playing their best ball down the stretch.

This game was a grind it out, gut it out game. We're fortunate to go on. Down the stretch we made the key stops and hit our free throws."

Free throws were the key down the stretch for Gonzaga as it hit 9-of-10 to secure the 10-point victory. Sophomore Tiffanie Shives was the player the Zags wanted on the line as she hit 6-of-6 at the charity stripe in the final minute of action.

"Tiffanie is capable of doing that any night," said Graves. "That's been our strength all year. We have old reliable over here (Bowman) and then it's Bjorklund one night, Elliott the next and when we need that other scorer there's always somebody there and tonight it was Tiff. Heather gets double teamed, pushed and shoved and it`s nice to have someone who can make their free throws. Tonight she carried us on her shoulders."

Gonzaga had built a 15-point lead at 53-38 at the 12:23 mark after Shives drained her second three-pointer of the half, but it could not sustain the advantage as Pepperdine used a 14-5 run to close the Zags lead to just five with 7:33 remaining in the contest.

The Waves continued to pressure the Zags and with a little over two minutes remaining Mirana Ayim hit a jumper to cut the Bulldog's lead to just four at 64-60. Two free throws by Bowman and a layup by junior Jami Bjorklund gave Gonzaga some breathing room, but Pepperdine responded with two free throws by Ayim and a steal and layup by Katie Menton to again make it a two possession game.

Once Menton scored the layup to put Gonzaga lead to just 68-64, Gonzaga went into survival mode as its final nine points were hit with time stopped at the charity stripe. Besides Shives six free throws, sophomore Vivian Frieson hit 3-of-4 to help secure the victory.

The Bulldogs took a slight 31-22 lead into halftime on the strength of Bowman and Frieson. Bowman nearly had a double-double after the first stanza as she scored a game-leading nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. Frieson on the other hand scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 accuracy at the charity stripe. Frieson also grabbed four rebounds for Gonzaga.

Besides Bowman, Frieson also finished the game with a double-double; the first of her career. The Seattle native scored 12 points and grabbed a team-leading 11 rebounds.

Two other players had double-figure points for GU as Shives closed out the contest with 16 points, two rebounds and two steals, and freshman Courtney Vandersloot, the WCC Newcomer of the Year, posted 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and one steal.

Daphanie Kennedy paced Pepperdine with 20 points, 15 of which she scored in the second half. Ayim had a double-double performance of 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Gonzaga will be back in action on Saturday, March 8 when it plays in the semi-finals of the WCC Tournament. Game time is slated for 2 p.m. but the Zags opponent has yet to be determined.

Saint Mary's - 71
LMU - 67

San Diego, CA - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team overcame a slow first half, defeating Loyola Marymount 71-67 in the first round of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The victory marks the Gaels' first WCC tournament win since the 2001-02 season. Jontelle Smith totaled a game-high 23 points in the game, knocking down 8-of-17 shots from the floor and 4-of-10 from long range.

Louella Tomlinson totaled three blocks in the win, boosting her total count to 152 on the year. The freshman's 152 blocks ties the NCAA Div. I record for blocks in a season, and with one more game to play the Aussie has an opportunity to capture the outright record. Tomlinson finished the game with eight points and four rebounds, on 4-of-9 shooting from the floor.

Chasing records seemed to be contagious in the game, as Lauren Shaughnnesy picked up three steals, accumulating 123 total career steals. With the three swipes the senior surpassed Anja Bordt's 121 career steals, and now holds the outright Saint Mary's record for career steals. The senior performed in every aspect of the game, adding 14 points, six boards and four assists.

Serena Benavente totaled a game-high seven rebounds against the Lions, while adding 12 points. The guard played a significant role in the first half, hitting two important three pointers to keep the Gaels in the game.

Predicted to be the closest first round match-up of the West Coast Conference tournament, the Gaels used a late first half surge to cut the Lions' lead to 40-37 at the half. Saint Mary's struggled from tip-off until the 11:42 mark, as LMU took a 17-10 lead to start the game. Although Saint Mary's was able to cut the Lions' lead to three points at 9:59, that was as close as they would come for the majority of the half.

Shaughnessy posted a game-high 12 points in the first half, on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor. The senior guard used her quickness, finding midrange jumpers and lanes to the basket on multiple occasions. Fellow senior, Benavente, recorded eight points in the half on 3-of-6 shooting. Benavente used back-to-back three pointers at the 11:24 and 9:59 mark to keep the LMU lead in check.

Saint Mary's came out of the break with an instant boost of energy, capturing their first lead of the game just three minutes into the half, 41-40. From that point on the Gaels would hold the momentum, increasing their lead to 15 points with 6:53 left to play. The Lions made one final run in the game, pulling to within four points with 3:00 minutes to go. LMU was forced to foul the Gaels with 1:30 remaining, but the Gaels proved clutch at the free throw line, converting 3-of-4 from the charity stripe, and earning a 71-67 win over the Lions.

Smith was the key for the Gaels in the second half, recording 20 of her 23 points. The junior hit all four of her three pointers in the second half, as she was 4-of-10 in the game.

"I think that was a typical Saint Mary's-Loyola Marymount game tonight," said Head Coach Paul Thomas. "I think it was very, very hard fought and a pretty tough battle in there and I'm just very proud of this team. I couldn't be happier for Lauren (Shaughnessy) and Serena (Benavente), our two seniors, getting the chance to play in the semifinals on Saturday. I think that's really special for them. They put in a tremendous amount of work and I just couldn't be happier for those two. I'm so proud of what they've done for this program in just the two years that I've been there."

The Gaels continue play in the WCC tournament on Saturday, March 8 at 2:00 pm. After the reseeding of the remaining four teams, Saint Mary's will face top seeded Gonzaga in the second round.

San Diego - 61
Portland - 57

San Diego, Calif. - The University of San Diego clinched a first round West Coast Conference Tournament victory by holding off a strong Portland rally for a 61-57 win. Amber Sprague posted a double-double with ten points and 13 rebounds while freshman Sam Child added 14 points for the Toreros. Senior Amanda Rego dished out nine assists.

For Portland, Laiken Dollente led all scorers with a game-high 20 points. Senior Rachel Warren added a double-double of her own with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

The Pilots took an early 10-4 lead on a pair of free throws by Dollente. USD came back, however, with a 14-2 run, capped off by a jumper by Child. Portland came within one when Warren sank a shot, but USD pulled away and went into halftime with a 35-23 lead.

The Toreros used a strong offensive showing to start the second half and led by as many as 14 points with 15:47 remaining in the half. Portland, however, would chip away at the USD lead and used a 14-4 run over the next seven minutes to pull within four points at 47-43. Then Warren pulled down an offensive rebound and laid the ball in to bring the Pilots to within two.

Kiva Herman put USD back up by four with a successful jump shot but Dollente sank a three-pointer and put the Pilots within one at 49-48 with 7:04 remaining. The teams traded baskets with USD gaining a four-point lead, but two free throws and another three-point basket by Dollente gave Portland a 55-54 lead with 1:16 remaining. Child made two straight free throws to give the lead back to USD at 56-55 and two successful Morgan Henderson free throws put the Toreros up for good at 59-55. Tara Cronin made a layup to give Portland two more points, but that was as close as the Pilots would come as USD closed out the game on two free throws by Rego.

Henderson finished with 11 points for USD while Herman added ten.

USD will face Santa Clara in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament Saturday at noon.

Santa Clara - 89
San Francisco - 84

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Senior Jen Gottschalk registered a career-high 31 points to lead the Santa Clara women's basketball team to an 89-84 victory over the University of San Francisco Thursday afternoon in the first round of the 2008 West Coast Conference Championship. With the win, the Broncos advance to the semifinals which will be played on Saturday, March 8 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Santa Clara (20-10) rallied from behind in the final two minutes of the contest to take the lead and win the contest. Gottschalk nearly had her 12th double-double of the season as she pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. Junior Elizabeth Doran posted 17 points for the Broncos, while redshirt junior Sara Majors added 13 points. Senior Tracey Walker chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds. Walker was also 8-for-8 from the foul line.

"Resilient is the first word that comes to my mind," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "This entire year people have doubted this basketball team and every challenge that has been put in front of us, this team has responded to and this afternoon was no different. I just told them today was about heart, I couldn't be more proud of them right now."

USF climbed to an 11 point lead early in the first half beginning with a three-pointer by Nykia Peace and ending on a jumper by Dominique Carter. The Dons lead 16-5. However, Santa Clara's Doran halted the run with her second trey of the game, 16-8. Yet, USF held the lead. With a straight seven-point effort from Gottschalk, the Broncos came within three points, 26-23, with 6:05 to play.

A three-pointer by Walker made it a two-point game, 28-26, yet Santa Clara could not tie the score. Free shots made by Doran after a technical foul was issued to USF's Lisa Olden for unsportsmanlike conduct, made it a two-point game once again, 30-28, with 5:13 remaining in the half. The Dons jumped to a nine-point lead, 41-32, with :28 to play, but the Broncos had the final say with a three-point shot by Doran to end the half, 41-35.

The Bronco came out firing in the second half with four quick points from Majors and Walker to make the score 41-39. The two teams then traded baskets allowing the Dons to remain on top. A 7-0 rally from the Broncos on points from Maggie Goldenberger, Walker and a trey from Gottschalk knotted the game, 53-53, with 13:53 remaining. It was the first tie of the game. Santa Clara then tied the score again on a layup by Gottschalk. However, USF took a five-point lead, 61-56, on a jumper by Shay Rollins.

USF continued to push ahead on points from Carter and claimed an 11-point edge, 73-62, on a jumper from Olden with 8:02 left. Santa Clara fought back to bring the score within five points on points from Gottschalk, Majors and Doran. Two made free throws by Gottschalk made the score, 75-50, with 5:56 remaining. The Broncos continued their fight and made it a three-point game on free shots by Majors, 77-74. With 2:48, free shots made by Gottschalk brought the Broncos within one-point, 77-76. Gottschalk then found a wide Goldenberger under the basket, who successfully made her layup to give Santa Clara their first lead of the contest, 80-79.

Santa Clara made seven of eight free throws to claim an 89-84 victory over San Francisco.

The Broncos return to action on Saturday, March 8 in the semifinals of the 2008 WCC Tournament. The four advancing teams from day one will be reseeded for round two. Fans should check www.SantaClaraBroncos.com for remaining game times and opponents.