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Gonzaga Wins WCC Women's Basketball Tournament; Punches NCAA Tournament Ticket

Courtney Vandersloot was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
 
Courtney Vandersloot was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
 
 

March 9, 2009

GON Post-Game Press Conference
USD Post-Game Press Conference

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team's dream came true this afternoon as it won its second West Coast Conference Tournament title in three years and earned just its second-ever NCAA Tournament bid with a 66-55 victory over the University of San Diego Monday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

"It was pretty sweet win today since last year we lost to them in the finals," said sophomore Janelle Bekkering. "We were kind of rooting to meet them in the final again so we could avenge that loss."

Sophomore Courtney Vandersloot, who finished with 10 points, 10 assists, three steals and two rebounds was named the WCC Most Valuable Player, while junior Heather Bowman, who scored a team-high 16 points, and Bekkering, who had a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards, were named the all-tournament team. Vandersloot became the first player to grab both WCC Player of the Year and Tournament MVP honors since Jerkisha Dosty from Saint Mary's in 2001.

Gonzaga improved its record to 26-6 overall, while San Diego closed out the season with a 19-13 mark.

It was the Bulldogs determination and resilience in the second half that propelled them to their 11-point victory.

Gonzaga, who led 32-28 at half, saw its four-point lead disappear in an blink of an eye as San Diego scored six quick points to take a 34-32 advantage just three minutes into the half.

 

 

A bit shell shocked, Graves called a timeout to regroup his squad. Regroup they did as they shifted the momentum back to their side with a 12-2 outbust to take a 42-36 lead at the 13:12 mark. The Toreros where forced to turn the ball over four times during this span and were held to just two shot opportunities, hitting one, in the five minute span.

The Zags pushed their lead to 10, 51-41, three-minutes later on the back of Bekkering, who drained two 3-pointers and hit one-of-two from the free throw line. San Diego, who was playing in its fourth game in four days, tried to comeback, slicing Gonzaga's lead to six at 51-45, but their legs seemed to fail them down the stretch as the Bulldogs held at least an eight-point advantage for the final 4:58 of the contest. Gonzaga's largest lead of the game was 13 at 66-53 with 31 seconds left after freshman Kelly Bowen nailed a 3-pointer followed by a free throw by Bowman.

Five total players scored in double-digits for the Bulldogs. Along with Vandersloot, Bowman and Bekkering, junior Vivian Frieson added 11 points and Bowen chipped in 15.

The Zags finished the game shooting 42.0 percent (21-for-50) from the field, including 46.7 percent (7-for-15) from behind the 3-point arc, and hit 70.8 percent (17-of-24) of their free throws.

San Diego was led by Kiva Herman and Dominique who scored 23 and 13 points, respectively.

Gonzaga will not wait to see where and who it will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament scheduled for the weekend of March 21-24. The tournament selection show is set for Monday, March 16 at 4 p.m. PT.

2009 WCC Women's Basketball Championship All-Tournament Team
Tournament MVP: Courtney Vandersloot, GON
Janelle Bekkering, GON
Heather Bowman, GON
Dominique Connors, USD
Kiva Herman, USD