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WCC Women's Basketball Second Round Recaps

March 8, 2008

WCC Tournament Central

San Diego - 72
Santa Clara - 66

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Junior forward Kiva Herman scored a team-high 23 points to help propel the University of San Diego women's basketball team, (18-12) to a thrilling 72-66 West Coast Conference Tournament semifinal round win over the second-seeded Santa Clara Broncos Saturday afternoon at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

After Morgan Henderson put the Toreros up three, 69-66, with a jumper on the baseline with just 16 seconds left on the clock. Henderson then blocked Elizabeth Doran's three-pointer with six seconds to go end the SCU scoring threat, and the rebound fell into the hands of Amber Sprague, who was fouled. Sprague hit one free throw, then missed the second but Herman came down with the offensive rebound and hit a pair of free throws after being fouled to seal the victory for the Toreros.

USD will now pay in the championship game for the first time since they won it all in 2000, against the winner of the Gonzaga and Saint Mary's game on Sunday at 1:30 p.m., live on CSTV for their chance to earn the WCC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

For the game, Herman led the team with her 23 points, on an impressive 9-for-16 performance from the field. Henderson and Amber Sprague both added in 14 points a piece and senior guard Amanda Rego chipped in 10 points as the fourth Torero in double figures. As a team, USD shot 51 percent from the field and out rebounded the Broncos 38-30.

Sprague scored the first point of the game on a free throw, but the Broncos kept things close and took the lead on a Tracey Walker 3-pointer and maintained the lead over the first nine minutes of action. Then with the score at 21-20 in favor of SCU, a Herman lay-up sparked an 8-0 run for the Toreros to give USD the momentum at a seven-point lead at 28-21 with 6:20 remaining in the first half.

San Diego would maintain that lead as they went into the break with a 41-33 advantage.

In the second frame, Broncos came out firing on all cylinders as they began the period with a 9-1 run to pull to within one at 43-42 with 17:33 to go in the game.

The Toreros in turn then responded with a 9-2 run of their own that was sparked on a Herman 3-pointer and capped off on a Sprague lay-up to push the Toreros lead to 10 at 54-44 with 14:47 to go.

The Broncos then kept the deficit down to single digits for a majority of the remainder of the period, until the score was 59-53 in favor of the Toreros. Then with 6:13 remaining, Walker hit back-to-back 3-poiniters to put the Broncos even with USD at 59-all with 5:22 to go.

The Broncos would eventually take a two point lead at 61-59 on a Jen Gottschalk jumper, but the Toreros would battle back not allowing the Broncos to get more than two points ahead. USD got to back to within one at 66-65, which set the stage for Henderson's heroics.

For the Broncos, Walker led all scorers with her 25 points, and three other Broncos were in double figures as Gottschalk had 13 points, Doran had 10 points and Sara Majors had 12 points. As a team, the Broncos shot 40 percent from the field.

Gonzaga - 81
Saint Mary's - 64

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball, looking to win its second-straight West Coast Conference Tournament title, stepped one inch closer Saturday afternoon as it defeated Saint Mary's College 81-64 in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, Calif.

The Bulldogs, who are the No. 1 seed in the tournament, will now face the University of San Diego, the No. 3 seed, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for the tournament title. USD defeated No. 2 Santa Clara University 72-66 in the first semifinal of the day.

"There is nothing more exciting than to be able to do this again," said sophomore Heather Bowman. "We did it last year and now we have a chance to go back (to the NCAA).

"Being back at the tournament this year as a sophomore, I personally am more comfortable and so is the team. It's another chance to do better and go further."

The game started off on a high note as senior Michelle Elliott, who only had attempted five three-pointers in the past three games and hadn't hit one since Feb.28, nailed a three-pointer 13 seconds in to the contest.

Elliott and sophomore Tiffanie Shives each hit two three-pointers in the opening frame while Bowman poured in 14 points to help the Bulldogs to a 14-point advantage at half, 42-28.

Saint Mary's was done in by turnovers in the first stanza as the Gaels had 14 miscues. Gonzaga took full advantage of Saint Mary's turnovers, scoring 21 points off them.

The Zags, leading 11-6 at the 16:14 mark, burst out with an 11-2 run to seemingly take over the contest. Bowman scored six of her 14 first half points during this spurt to help Gonzaga to the 22-8 advantage with less than 13 minutes to play in the half.

Gonzaga's largest lead of the opening half was 19, 41-22, after Shives drained a three-pointer and Bowman placed in a layup.

The Bulldogs only let their lead dip below double-digits once in the second stanza. The Gaels got within eight-points of the Zags after Louella Tomlinson and Sierra Chambers hit back-to-back baskets to put the score at 49-41 with 14:23 left on the clock.

Bowman put the team on her back for a few minutes though as she scored eight points over the next four minutes to push Gonzaga's lead back to 16 points at 61-45.

Saint Mary's could not recover as Gonzaga earned the lopsided victory.

"We are the kind of team that likes to run and go and we are fun to watch if we are doing that," stated head coach Kelly Graves. "It was important for us to get out to a nice lead. They never were out of it but I thought we were in control for the entire 40 minutes."

Bowman finished with her 10th double-double of the season and second-straight of the tournament. The Spokane native closed out the contest with 26 points and 12 rebounds; both game-highs. Bowman is now just 24 points away from breaking the 1,000-point plateau as she scored 976 over her two seasons as a Zag.

Freshman Courtney Vandersloot and sophomore Tiffanie Shives also finished in double-digits with 14 and 10, respectively. Vandersloot also dished out eight assists and grabbed eight boards, while Shives passed out five assists and brought down four boards.

The Bulldogs blocked nine shots during the win; the most blocks in a GU game since Feb. 23, 2006 when it swatted 10 shots at the University of San Diego.

Saint Mary's was led by Tomlinson who scored 25 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. The Gaels did hold the slight 50-48 rebounding advantage but turned the ball over 20 times.

Gonzaga pushed its overall record to 24-7, while Saint Mary's closed out the season at 15-17.