April 12, 2006
WCC Wraps Up 2005-06 Season
For the eighth straight season, and the 11th time in the past 12 years, the West Coast Conference was represented by multiple teams in the postseason. Pepperdine captured the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by winning the WCC Tournament, while regular season co-champion Santa Clara was selected to play in the WNIT. The No. 15 seeded Waves fell to No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the first round, 78-66, while the Broncos were upended at Oregon State in preliminary round WNIT action, 77-48.
After a prolific season from beyond the arc in 2004-05, three-point records continued to crumble in the WCC this season. Santa Clara, who led the nation with an average of 8.5 treys per game, set a conference single-game record with 18 three-pointers against Portland on January 8, 2006. The Broncos also set a league record with 112 three-pointers in conference play, and SCU's Chandice Cronk shot the seventh-highest percentage from beyond the arc in WCC history (.451). However, the Broncos weren't the only team setting three-point records as Portland's Jennifer Wassom established a UP single-game record with nine treys on December 21, 2005, and San Diego's Michelle Augustavo set a Torero standard with 10 three-pointers en route to a 42-point performance against Clemson on December 11, 2005. Rachael Ziemann became LMU's all-time leader in three-point field goals with 126, and teammate Amanda Patton broke Ziemann's year-old single-season mark for treys with 67.
WCC Postseason Results
2006 Women's NCAA Tournament First Round
Saturday, March 18 (Denver, CO)
No. 2 Oklahoma def. No. 15 Pepperdine - 78-66
2006 WNIT Preliminary Round
Thursday, March 16 (Corvallis, OR)
Oregon State def. Santa Clara - 77-48
Around The WCC
Gonzaga's Stephanie Hawk Selected To Division I-AAA Scholar-Athlete Team
Gonzaga's Stephanie Hawk was one of five West Coast Conference men's and women's basketball student-athletes selected to the 2006 Division I-AAA Scholar-Athlete Teams as selected by the I-AAA Athletic Directors Association. Hawk made her first appearance on the I-AAA Scholar-Athlete team with a 3.58 in Business. Hawk was the lone Bulldogs player to start all 30 games this season as Gonzaga won its second straight West Coast Conference regular-season title. She was a first-team All-WCC selection averaging 12.9 points and 7.1 rebounds.
WCC Tournament Recap
Pepperdine tied Portland in 1994 and San Diego in 2000 as the lowest seeded squads to capture the WCC Tournament title, as the No. 4 seeded Waves reeled off three straight victories to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, WA. In the first conference tournament to be hosted by Gonzaga, Pepperdine knocked off No. 5 seed Saint Mary's in the first round before edging No. 3 seed Loyola Marymount in the semifinals, 59-58. The Waves then proceeded to upset top-seed and WCC regular season co-champion Santa Clara in the championship game, 71-67. Pepperdine's Daphanie Kennedy was tabbed for tournament MVP honors, while teammate Jasmane Clarendon was named to the all-tournament team. Santa Clara's Michelle Cozad and Chandice Cronk joined them on the all-tournament squad along with USF's Dominique Carter.
Three WCC Players Earn Academic All-District Recognition
Three WCC women's basketball players earned academic honors, as Portland Pilot teammates Whitney Grant and Rachel Warren were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII first team, while Gonzaga's Stephanie Hawk earned third team honors as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
San Francisco Head Coach Mary Hile-Nepfel Resigns
University of San Francisco Head Women's Basketball Coach Mary Hile-Nepfel resigned her position on March 7th, 2006 after leading the program for nineteen seasons. Hile-Nepfel is the winningest coach in the history of the USF women's program, taking her team to 270 career wins. Her 129 career West Coast Conference victories are the most in league history. As a player from 1977 to 1981, she scored 2,324 points, which puts her atop the USF scoring chart for women or men. She was a two-time All-American at USF and twice a finalist for the Wade Trophy, awarded to the nation's top collegiate player. She returned to the Hilltop as Co-Head Coach along with her husband Bill in 1987. Along with Bill she took USF to three straight NCAA tournaments in 1995, 1996 and 1997, with the 1996 team the only West Coast Conference team to advance to the NCAA "Sweet Sixteen." Hile-Nepfel took over as the sole head coach in 2000.
WCC Team Notes
Gonzaga Bulldogs (16-14 / 11-3 WCC)
- Gonzaga finished the 2005-06 campaign with a 16-14 record, and was not selected for postseason play for the first time since 2003 despite claiming a share of the WCC regular season title.
- Stephanie Hawk nearly doubled her career blocks total, leading the WCC with 44 blocks this season. Hawk moved into a tie for sixth on the Gonzaga career blocks list with 90.
- Jami Bjorklund became the first Zag since 1992-93 to be named to the WCC all-freshmen team.
- The Zags shared the WCC regular season title with Santa Clara, marking the second straight season and the third time in program history that Gonzaga has claimed a conference crown.
- Gonzaga led the WCC in scoring defense, surrendering just 60.8 points per game.
Loyola Marymount Lions (17-12 / 10-4 WCC)
- Loyola Marymount notched a third place finish in the WCC, posting a 17-12 overall mark and a 10-4 record in conference contests.
- Ashlee Dunlap led the conference with 10.2 rebounds per contest, becoming the first Lion since Nicole Gaines in 1996 to lead the league in rebounding. Dunlap also set the LMU program record with 295 boards on the season.
- Amanda Patton, an All-WCC honorable mention selection, enjoyed a breakout season from beyond the arc. Patton broke teammate Rachael Ziemann's year-old mark for 3-pointers with 67 treys to finish second in the conference.
- Ziemann became LMU's all-time leader in three-pointers made, knocking down 31 treys on the season to bring her career total to 126. Ziemann broke the previous record of 118 set by former Lion standout Bryn Britton.
Pepperdine Waves (14-17 / 8-6 WCC)
- Pepperdine won its third WCC Tournament title, reeling off three straight victories in Spokane to capture the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Waves entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed, and fell to No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the first round, 78-66.
- Daphanie Kennedy was tabbed for WCC Tournament MVP honors after scoring 47 points in three games. Kennedy remained hot in the NCAA Tournament, scoring a career-high 31 points including 23 points in the second half.
- Pepperdine made the program's fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and its sixth post-season appearance in the last seven seasons.
- The Waves matched Portland in 1994 and San Diego in 2000 as the lowest seeded teams to win a WCC Tournament title, claiming the crown as a No. 4 seed.
Portland Pilots (4-24 / 1-13 WCC)
- The Pilots closed out the 2005-06 season with a 4-24 overall mark and a 1-13 record in conference play.
- Whitney Grant, a first team All-WCC selection, finished the regular season ranked second in the league in scoring, averaging 15.2 points per contest in her senior campaign. Grant also dished out 91 assists on the season, putting her into a tie for sixth on the Portland career list with 401.
- Rachel Warren led the conference in blocked shots with 1.50 blocks per game, becoming the first Pilot since Wendy Toonen in 1997 to lead the conference in blocks.
- Meagan Bermingham enjoyed a standout sophomore campaign, finishing third on the team with 10.8 points per game and ranking third in the WCC with 2.21 steals per contest.
Saint Mary's Gaels (12-16 / 7-7 WCC)
- Saint Mary's closed its season with a loss to Pepperdine in the first round of the WCC Tournament, finishing the campaign with a 12-16 overall record.
- Jontelle Smith finished the season as the WCC's top scoring freshman, averaging a team-high 11.9 points per game to rank eighth in the conference.
- Saint Mary's led the conference with a .368 3-point field goal percentage in WCC games. The Gaels were paced from beyond the arc by Maija Lahde, who tied for fourth in the league with a .412 3-point field goal percentage in WCC contests.
- Serena Benavente and Monica Mertle both came back from injury redshirt seasons to produce for the Gaels in 2005-06. Mertle averaged 10.5 points per game to rank second on the team, while Benavente ranked second in the league with a 1.38 assist/turnover ratio.
San Diego Toreros (9-19 / 4-10 WCC)
- San Diego finished off its first season under the tutelage of Head Coach Cindy Fisher with a 9-19 record, and a 4-10 mark in conference play.
- Tiara Harris scored 20 points in the loss to LMU, finishing her career in sixth place on the USD career points list with 1,150. Harris was the league's top scorer in WCC contests with 17.0 points per game in her senior campaign, becoming the first Torero to ever pace the circuit in scoring in conference games.
- Polly Dong dished out a team-high 84 assists on the season to bring her career assist total to 415 and put her in second place on the San Diego career chart. Dong also moved into second place on the USD career steals list with 178.
- The Toreros paced the WCC with an average of 10.43 steals per contest, led by Amanda Rego's league-high 3.57 steals per game.
San Francisco Dons (9-20 / 4-10 WCC)
- USF wrapped up its season with a 9-20 overall mark, making a spirited run to the WCC Tournament semifinals before falling to Santa Clara.
- Head Coach Mary Hile-Nepfel resigned from her position on March 7 after 19 years at the helm on the Hilltop. Hile-Nepfel, who coached for 13 seasons with husband Bill Nepfel, retired as the league's winningest coach in conference history with 129 victories in WCC games.
- Dominique Carter earned WCC all-tournament team honors, becoming the first Don since 1997 to earn all-tournament accolades. Carter led San Francisco with 13.9 points per game, and finished second on the team with 5.2 rebounds per contest.
- LaShaunte Stephens came on strong down the stretch for the Dons, finishing third on the squad with an average of 8.2 points per game.
Santa Clara Broncos (19-12 / 11-3 WCC)
- Santa Clara made its second straight postseason appearance and its fourth appearance in the last five years, falling to Oregon State in the preliminary round of the WNIT, 77-48.
- Michelle Cozad became the first Bronco since Lisa Sacco in 1998 to earn the WCC Player of the Year honor. Cozad was the only player in the conference to rank among the top-six in the league in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. The senior averaged 18.1 points per game, and was the first SCU player to lead the WCC in scoring since Christine Silvernail in 1994.
- The Broncos ranked first in the nation with an average of 8.5 three-pointers per contest on the season. Chandice Cronk led the league with a .451 3-point field goal percentage.
- Santa Clara was the top scoring team in the WCC this season, averaging 72.8 points per contest to rank 21st in Division I.