March 7, 2009
NO. 4 LOYOLA MARYMOUNT - 71
NO. 8 SANTA CLARA - 60
Las Vegas, NV - One of the hardest things to do is to beat a team three times in a season but LMU accomplished just that with a 71-60 victory over Santa Clara in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. With the win, the fourth-seeded Lions (18-11) beat the the eighth-seeded Broncos (4-27) for the third time this year and advances to Sunday's semifinal looking to avoid its third loss of the season to top seed Gonzaga.
LMU entered the game having lost its last four regular season games and winless in its last two WCC Tournament games but got outstanding efforts on the offensive glass to hold off the Broncos. LMU outrebounded Santa Clara 40-33, pulling down 17 on the offensive end, leading to 17 second chance points. The Lions also took care of the ball, committing a season-low 10 turnovers while forcing 15 from Santa Clara.
"The win was much-needed for us. The last couple of weeks have obviously been a struggle," Head Coach Julie Wilhoit said. "I love the win and the fact that it takes us into a rematch with Gonzaga."
Sophomore Renahy Young returned to her high-scoring ways, leading all scorers with 23 points, 15 coming in the second half. It was her sixth 20-plus point outing of the season and gave her 423 for the year, tying her for seventh on the LMU single-season scoring list.
"I wasn't thinking too much," Young said. "I was thinking just enough. I really want to get to the championship game and I know our team really wants to get to the championship game and win the whole thing. That is what is driving me right now - just wanting to win."
Senior Cassady Moore balanced the attack with 10 of her 15 points in the first half, adding eight rebounds and three steals. Junior Lisa Helmers chipped in 10 points, sophomore Aleyse Evans had seven points and 10 rebounds, with freshmen Candice Nichols and Alex Cowling each also finishing with seven points.
LMU shot 37.5% (24-for-64) from the floor but was accurate from long-range and the free throw line, knocking down 46.7% (7-for-15) from downtown and 76.2% (16-for-21) at the stripe.Sara Majors paced four Broncos in double figures with a career-high 19 points. Elizabeth Doran contributed 12 points and Alyssa Shoji and Maggie Goldenberger each had 10. SCU shot 44.4% (24-for-54) overall, 50% (8-for-16) from three-point range, and 66.7% (4-for-6) at the line.
After shooting over 50% in its first-round upset of Saint Mary's, Santa Clara missed its first four shots but soon found its rhythm through Lena Gipson and Majors, who combined to score the Broncos' first 12 points. LMU, on the other hand, was keeping pace with a balanced attack as five different players scored, the last being an offensive rebound-putback by Cowling that gave the Lions a 13-12 lead.
Playing inspired with each game hereafter possibly being her last, Moore picked up her game to help the Lions begin to open an early advantage. The senior had eight points and two steals in the first 10 minutes, helping LMU go on a 7-0 run, capped by a Young three from the wing for a 22-14 lead with 8:04 remaining.
Moore and Majors continued to wage their personal battle of the seniors. Both were in double figures before halftime, with Majors a perfect 6-for-6 for 14 points and Moore going for 10. Turnovers and rebounds were the difference in the opening 20 minutes, however, as LMU forced Santa Clara into 10 turnovers while grabbing 10 offensive rebounds for a 32-25 Lion lead at the break.
Young got aggressive to open the second half, scoring eight of LMU's first 14 points on a pair of threes and two free throws to push the lead over 10 for the first time, 46-34. LMU's offensive rebounding proved the advantage, leading to countless additional possessions. At the other end, it was one and done for Santa Clara, who had just two offensive boards in the first 34 minutes.
LMU would push the lead to as many as 16, 58-42, on a three-pointer by Helmers with 7:10 remaining. Shoji would answer with a three for the Broncos but Nichols negated it with a three-ball for LMU. As had been the case in their previous meetings, Santa Clara would not go away, cutting it to nine, 65-56, on a three-pointer by Doran with 2:01 left. Time was not on the Broncos' side, however, and they were forced to foul. LMU was a solid 8-for-10 at the stripe in the final 2:30 to clinch the spot in Sunday's semi.
This was the fifth time LMU and Santa Clara had met at the WCC Tournament, with LMU winning for the second time in a row. The victory also gave Head Coach Julie Wilhoit her 200th victory at LMU.
The Lions will now face Gonzaga for the first time at the WCC Tournament since the Bulldogs defeated the Lions in the 2007 championship game. Tip-off for the semifinal will be at 12 noon and will be broadcast live on KXLU 88.9 FM and on Lions' All-Access. Fans can also follow the action via Gametracker and free videostreaming on www.WCCSports.com.
NO. 6 SAN DIEGO - 76
NO. 3 PEPPERDINE - 69
Las Vegas, NV - Senior Kiva Herman scored 20 of her game-high 30 points in the second half in leading the USD Toreros to a come-from-behind 76-69 victory over No. 3 seed Pepperdine (16-13) in the quarterfinals of the 2009 WCC Tournament. With the win the Toreros (18-12) advance to Sunday's second semi-final (approx. 2:20 p.m.) where they will take on No. 2 seed Portland Pilots. Down 37-30 at intermission, Herman finished a perfect 8-for-8 from the field in the second half and finished 12-of-16 overall and 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
"Just an amazing effort by this group to dig in, especially in the last 8 minutes of the game," said USD head coach Cindy Fisher. "At every timeout I kept telling them that this was our time. You need your seniors to step up in tournament play and that is what we are getting from our senior leaders."
Herman matched her career-high of 30 points which she set earlier this season in a 78-65 win over Illinois-Chicago on December 28th. Morgan Henderson finished with 16 points and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, including 8-for-8 after intermission. Senior center Amber Sprague chipped in 13 points and 8 rebounds in the winning effort. Besides shooting 51.9% from the field in the second half, USD cashed in on 17-of-20 free throws over the final 20 minutes. For the game the Toreros were an impressive 28-of-34.
Early in the second half the Toreros fell behind by as many as 11 points (43-32) with 18:01 to go. Over the next 10 1/2 minutes the Toreros went on a 25-15 run to pull to within one at 58-57 with 7:24 to go. Herman made five jumpers during this stretch to key the comeback. At the 6:12 mark Herman converted on a lay-up to knot the score at 59-all, and she put the Toreros ahead for the first time in the 2nd half at 61-59 with a jumper with 3:09 to go. Over the final three minutes USD cashed in on 11-of-12 free throws to hold off the Waves.
Pepperdine was paced by Taylor Smith with 16 points off the bench, and 10 points each from Miranda Ayim and Joy Lelo. USD split their series with Portland this season, losing 74-66 in San Diego, then earning a 71-64 win in Portland on February 26th.