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TecleMariam Pours in 28 Points as Pilots Top Santa Clara at WCC Tournament

March 5, 2011

Mar. 5, 2011

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Las Vegas- Portland's ReZina TecleMariam scored a career-high 28 points, Natalie Day registered another double-double and the Pilots advanced at the West Coast Conference Championships with a 75-64 win over the Santa Clara Broncos in a quarterfinal match-up at the Orleans Arena on Saturday. The fourth-seeded Pilots (16-14) move on to play the No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs on Sunday.

Tip-off for the UP-GU semifinal is set for 11:00 a.m.

TecleMariam was feeling it against the Broncos as she hit 11 of 16 overall from the field. Z had 17 points at the break to help the Pilots take a 35-24 lead into the half-time locker room.

Day came alive in the second half as the Portland lead would swell to as much as 18 points. The Broncos were able to cut the lead to single digits late in the game, but the Pilots made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.

"That was a nice win," Portland head coach Jim Sollars said following the game. "We haven't won at the WCC Tournament in a while, so it was nice to get a `W' under our belts. We played very well and it was a great team effort

Day finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double in the past seven games. Her efforts on the glass, along with Amy Pupa's career-high 10 rebounds, helped the under-sized and short-handed Pilots to a big 43-32 advantage on the glass. Pupa, a freshman, was making her first career start.

But the story of the game had to be TecleMariam, whose previous career high was 23 points at Saint Mary's earlier this season. The junior used a bevy of drives, short jumpers and a three-pointer en route to her career best in scoring.

"I came in focused," said TecleMariam. "I knew that I had to leave it all on the court because it could have been the last game of the season. Give Santa Clara a lot of credit though, they worked hard."

Nakeisha Brown also reached double figures with 10 points for Portland, as did senior Tara Cronin with 12 points.

Cronin's 12 points give her 1,005 for her career as she becomes the 19th player in program history to reach the 1,000 career points plateau.

TecleMariam's hot shooting helped the Pilots hit 50 percent (29-for-58) of their shots. UP hit six three-pointers, with Day and Brown hitting two each, and went 11 of 15 at the foul line.

The Pilots stifled the Santa Clara defense all afternoon as the Broncos shot just 34.5 percent (20-for-58). SCU connected on nine three's and went 15-for-23 at the stripe. Lena Gipson had 10 points and 16 rebounds for the Broncos, while Alyssa Shoji scored a team-high 18 points.

The win is Portland's first at the WCC Tourney since 2004, and it sets up a rematch with the Bulldogs, who earned their way straight to the semifinals by claiming the league's regular season title.

GU, which is ranked No. 20 in the nation, defeated Portland in both previous meetings this season.

"I think Gonzaga is better than last year," Sollars said of the Bulldogs, who were a Sweet 16 team one year ago. "They've received improved play from Katelan Redmon and Kayla Standish, they have a great point guard and they're well coached."

Santa Clara, the league's No 5 seed, ends the season at 11-19. SCU opened play at the tourney by defeating San Francisco 62-58 in a first-round game played on Friday. UP received a first-round bye after claiming the fourth seed.

Courtesy of UP Sports Information