Mar. 5, 2012
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The BYU women's basketball team defeated reigning champion Gonzaga Monday to take the 2012 Zappos.com West Coast Conference Championship title at the Orleans Arena with the help of great performances from Cougar post players.
The win propels BYU (26-6, 12-4) to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 after taking second in regular season play. Monday's victory was also the Cougars' first conference tournament title since 2002.
Dani Peterson's career-high 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting and 12 rebounds, her third double-double of the season, aided the Cougars on their path to victory. Haley Steed and Jennifer Hamson contributed 17 points apiece while Hamson had eight rebounds and Steed had eight assists.
Kim Parker dished out a career-high 10 assists and Kristen Riley added 10 rebounds.
Gonzaga (26-5) had three players in double figures with Haiden Palmer scoring a game-high 28.
Peterson came out on fire with four of the team's first six points as the Cougars exchanged buckets with the Bulldogs. Gonzaga launched a 6-0 run with the help of Kayla Standish to put BYU behind 18-12.
Down 21-14, Steed connected with Stephanie Vermunt and Parker for back-to-back treys to steal back the lead. Gonzaga responded to the 8-0 BYU run with nine-straight points of its own to lead 32-24.
Eaton ended the run with a contested layup and a Riley three pulled BYU within five at 34-29. Steed drove to the hoop for a layup and added a three to cut the deficit to one. Eaton's jumper with 1:23 to go sent the Cougars into the locker room with a 36-35 lead.
The Cougars also dominated from the field, hitting 71.4 percent of their shots and 66.7 percent from 3-point land. BYU turnovers kept the game close, giving Gonzaga 13 points.
BYU took control with a 7-2 run to start the second half before the Bulldogs got back into rhythm and tied the game at 45-45 with 16:25 left in the game. The tie was short lived as Steed hit all three free throws after being fouled on a three to give BYU a lead it would not relinquish. The foul shots started an 8-2 run that gave the Cougars a 55-47 lead.
At 14:08, Lexi Eaton stole the ball off a bad pass by Bulldog Palmer and took it down the court for a layup despite heavy pursuit of two Bulldogs. Steed drained a deep 3-pointer to give the Cougars a double-figure lead at 62-51 and Peterson increased that lead to 13 on a layup.
BYU held on for the ride, preventing Gonzaga comeback attempts to finish the game at 78-66.
Hamson and Peterson were named to the all-tournament team and Steed was selected tournament MVP.
BYUtv will rebroadcast the game Monday at 9:30 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
2012 WCC Tournament MVP
Haley Steed, BYU
2012 WCC All-Tournament Team
Jennifer Hamson, BYU
Haiden Palmer, GON
Dani Peterson, BYU
Kayla Standish, GON
-Courtesy of BYU Athletics