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Zags Defeat Santa Clara; Win WCC Title Outright

Feb. 27, 2009

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team won the West Coast Conference regular season title for the fifth-straight season with a 92-63 victory over Santa Clara University at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday. The Bulldogs (23-6) improved their WCC leading record to 11-2 and clinched the title outright, and the top seed in the WCC Tournament, after the University of San Diego upset the University of Portland, who was one game behind the Zags in the WCC standings, 71-64.

"It was good to come out and get a win [after a 72-62 loss at Pepperdine] in front of our home crowd tonight," said head coach Kelly Graves. "I was very happy with how we attacked the basket; we were able to get inside and make some things happen."

It was junior Vivian Frieson who made it her mission to make sure Gonzaga controlled the 44-28 lead at half. Frieson scored 14 of her career-high 26 points in the opening half, including eight-straight to help turn a Bronco one point lead at 14-13 to a Zag nine-point advantage at 19-14 with 7:37 remaining before intermission. Sophomore Courtney Vandersloot started the Bulldogs run with a layup at the 10:50 mark.

"Vivian is a very versatile player and has been playing very well these past few weeks," stated Graves. "She's capable of these types of games and it was good to see somebody step up and play well tonight."

Gonzaga used another huge outburst to gain a 44-26 lead with less 20 seconds left in the half. The Bulldogs scored 17 points, while holding the Broncos to just four, to turn their five-point lead to an 18-point advantage. Six different Zags scored during this run, including Vandersloot who chipped in six points and sophomore Claire Raap who had four.

GU finished the first half hitting 59.4 percent (19-for-32) from the field but only hit 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from the charity stripe.The Bulldogs seemingly put the game out of the Broncos reach early in the second half when they ran off with a 16-0 run to put their lead at 62-34 at the 14:40 mark.

Gonzaga's largest lead of the game was 32, hit twice, the final time coming when freshman Kelly Bowen hit a jumper with a little over three minutes left in the contest to give the Zags 90 points for the fifth time this season at 90-58.

Besides Frieson, who also dished out a career-high seven assists, three other players scored in double-figures for Gonzaga. Vandersloot had 17 points, along with nine assists, while junior Heather Bowman added 15 points and Raap chipped in 11.

The Bulldogs finished the contest shooting a blazing 58.5 percent (38-for-65) from the field, including just 25.0 percent (2-for-8) from behind the three-point arc.

Gonzaga forced Santa Clara to turn the ball over 27 times, stealing the ball 15 of those times and scoring 30 points off the Broncos miscues. Santa Clara was led by Lena Gipson and Alyssa Shoji who scored 21 and 14 points, respectively. The Broncos hit 43.3 percent (26-for-60) from the field and grabbed 33 rebounds to the Zags 41.

It was a homecoming of sorts for first-year Bronco head coach Jennifer Mountain, who was an assistant for the Zags for seven seasons prior to be hired at Santa Clara. The Broncos are currently 3-25 on the year, 1-12 in WCC action.

Gonzaga closes out the regular season Saturday when it welcomes San Diego to the McCarthey Athletic Center for Senior Day. Game time is set for 2 p.m.