Gonzaga Women's Basketball team take down Santa Clara - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga Women's Basketball team take down Santa Clara

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The No. 17/17 Gonzaga University women's basketball team, the top seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament, got the ball rolling with an 87-47 victory over the No. 8 seed Santa Clara University in the semifinal game Sunday morning in front of nearly 2,500 fans at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The Zags, who received a two-game bye in to the semifinal by winning the WCC regular season, has now won 17 games in the row and are 26-4 overall.

Santa Clara, who was the surprise of the tournament upsetting the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds to get to the semifinals, closed out the year at 5-26.

"I am proud of our team today," stated head coach Kelly Graves. "It took us a while to get it rolling but once we cranked it up on defense things started happening. When we get our offense going off our defense we can be pretty good. That's when we are at our best."

Having not played in nearly a week, it took the Bulldogs a few minutes to settle their nerves. On the other end, the Broncos, riding an emotional high for their back-to-back victories in the tourney, were intense and aggressive in the opening moments. What ensued was a close battle between the two schools for the first nine minutes of the contest. But with the score 13-12 at the 11:38 mark, advantage Gonzaga, something in the Zags clicked and they went on a tear. A short 8-0 run that saw senior Heather Bowman score six points, pushed GU's advantage to 21-12 at 8:31. Alyssa Shoji quieted the Gonzaga heavy crowd with a 3-pointer, but the Zags once again ran away with a 21-2 spurt that pushed their lead to 22 points at 41-19. Six different players scored during this time, with junior Courtney Vandersloot contributing seven points.

A crucial element of the first half was Bronco leading scorer Lena Gipson, a force who had registered double-doubles in the previous two contents, but had to sit at 8:43 after being handed her third foul of the contest.

Nine total Zags scored in the first half for Gonzaga, who went into the locker room up 46-23. Bowman and senior Vivian Frieson lead the way with eight points apiece. Vandersloot added seven points and three assists. The Bulldogs finished the half hitting 50.0 percent (20-of-40) from the floor, including 50.0 percent beyond the 3-point arc (3-of-6) and sank 3-of-4 at the charity stripe.

The Bulldogs held the Broncos to 33.3 percent shooting in the opening 20, hitting just 8-of-24 from the field. Santa Clara also turned the ball over 13 times, with Gonzaga capitalizing with 19 points off the Broncos miscues.

Gonzaga continued to roll in the second half, pushing its lead above 30 just four minutes into the final half on a tip in by Bowman. The Bulldogs got the score above 40 with 10 minutes left after an old fashion play by Vandersloot put the score at 74-32. The Zags largest lead of the contest came at the 2:06 mark when sophomore Kayla Standish hit two free throws to make it a 44 point edge at 85-51.

All 15 players saw action for Gonzaga, with 12 players scoring, including four in double-figures. Bowman led the way with 18 points, while Frieson added 12, and Vandersloot and junior Janelle Bekkering chipped in 10 each. Vandersloot had eight assists and three steals, while Standish was the high rebounder with 11.

The Zags finished the contest shooting 48.1 percent (38-of-79) from the floor and out rebounded SCU 41-34.

"It was a good first game; everybody got a taste of the tournament so that was very nice to see," stated Graves. "We have had great senior leadership this year and they have done a great job of getting themselves and the team to just focus on the game ahead of them."

Santa Clara was forced to turn the ball over 32 times in the game with 16 Gonzaga steals and 43 points off the turnovers.

The Broncos, who shot just 36.0 percent (18-of-50) were led by Maggie Goldenberger with 14 points. Gipson, who fouled out at the 14:58 mark of the second half when Bowman took a charge, finished with just four points.

Gonzaga now waits who it will play in the WCC Tournament final. The contest is set for Monday at Noon and can be seen on ESPNU. The Bulldogs opponent with be either No. 2 seed Saint Mary's College or No. 3 seed Pepperdine University.

Gonzaga University
Athletic Dept.

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