BROOKINGS, S.D. - The atmosphere was that of a NCAA Tournament game, crowd was loud; both teams brought a lot of talent and the game went into overtime and down to the wire. What a beginning to the 2009-10 Gonzaga University women's basketball season. It wasn't the outcome the Bulldogs wanted as they fell to South Dakota State University 75-71 in overtime in Brookings, S.D., but they showed the talent they possessed.
South Dakota, who hasn't lost at home since December of 2006, improved to 1-0 on the year in front of 3,152 rowdy fans, while Gonzaga fell to 0-1.
South Dakota looked like it was going to win the contest in regulation as it led 66-63 with 15 seconds remaining. Gonzaga wasn't ready to give up - cue senior guard Tiffanie Shives. Shives, whose season was cut short last year due to a knee injury, got the ball from junior Courtney Vandersloot. With two players in her face, she drilled a three-pointer with two seconds left to send the game into overtime. The play was reviewed by the officials as the Jackrabbits coaching staff believed her foot was on the line. The refs couldn't find reason to change the call and to overtime the two teams went. Welcome back Shives.
Overtime, like the second half, was a battle back and forth between both teams. There were five lead changes and two ties in the five minute extra period. Gonzaga took the lead from South Dakota at 68-67 on a layup at Vandersloot, but the Jackrabbits responded with a three-pointer by Kelly Cornemann. The Bulldogs seemed to gain the momentum after senior Heather Bowman grabbed the offensive board after junior Janelle Bekkering's missed shot. Bowman went up scored a layup and was fouled. She sank her free throw to give GU the 71-70 edge with 2:59 to play.
It was all South Dakota after Bowman gave the Zags the lead. A free throw by Kristin Rotert tied the game at 71 all. Gonzaga had two opportunities to take the lead but turned the ball over two times. Rotert was able to give SDSU the advantage for good when she hit a layup with 1:06 remaining. Jill Young sealed the deal with two free throws.
Vandersloot was the engine that could in the first half for Gonzaga. The speedy point guard from Kent, Wash., had 11 of her team-high 20 points in opening 20 minutes and added five assists, four steals, two rebounds and one block.
It was Vandersloot who helped turn a 5-4 deficit early in the half into a momentum shifting 13-5 advantage five minutes into game. Vandersloot scored three points during the run, had a hand in three other baskets, made two steals and blocked a Jackrabbit shot attempt.
Gonzaga held the lead for the rest of the first half and went into the locker room with the 33-28 advantage.
The Bulldogs one setback in the opening half was fouls as Bekkering was hit with two just three minutes in and had to sit the rest of the half. Bowman got her second with 5:50 left before halftime and sophomore transfer Katelan Redmon accumulated her third at 5:02, both had to sit the rest of the half.
South Dakota didn't regain the lead until Rotert drained a three-pointer with 8:36 left in the second half.
Vandersloot was one assist shy of a triple double as she added 11 steals and nine assists to her 20 points. Shives finished with 17 points, Bowman added 13 and sophomore Kayla Standish chipped in 10 for the Zags.
Gonzaga shot 44.3 percent (26-of-60) for the game, including 36.4 percent (4-of-11) on 3-pointers and was 62.5 percent (15-for-24) from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs were sloppy with the ball, turning it over 30 times. The Zags were also outrebounded 45-36, including 17-10 on the offensive end.
South Dakota was led by Maria Boevers who had a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Jackrabbits shot 37.1 percent (23-of-62) from the field, including 25.0 percent (6-of-24) on three-pointers and was 65.7 percent (23-for-35) from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs continue their season on Monday, Nov. 16 when they play at the University of Idaho. Game time is set for 7 p.m.