Santa Clara's WCC Tournament Run Ends in Semis
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Top-seed and 17th-ranked Gonzaga proved to be too much for Santa Clara, the `Cinderella' of this year's WCC Tournament in Las Vegas, beating SCU 87-47.
The Broncos made history over the weekend, beating San Diego 68-67 then Portland 74-61 in the quarterfinals, becoming the only No. 8 seed in tournament history to advance into the semis.
Gonzaga (26-4) - winners of 17-straight - went on a 32-6 run to brake-open a one-point game midway through the first half. GU would lead by as many as 44. The Zags are in pursuit of their third WCC Tournament title in four years.
University of Portland head coach Jim Sollars - who has coached the Pilots for 24 seasons - said yesterday that Gonzaga has `the best team in the history of this league.'
"I agree," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain when asked about Sollars' comment. "They are so long and athletic in every spot. The depth that they have is tremendous. They have a lot of weapons, a complete package. Players that can run, jump, shoot, go inside or outside."
Heather Bowman, the WCC's all-time leading scorer, was 9 of 15 from the field and finished with a game-high 18 points. Courtney Vandersloot - the WCC's all-time assist leader had eight helpers and all-league forward Vivian Frieson scored 12 points - 10 in the first half.
Unlike the last meeting between the two schools in Santa Clara, where Gonzaga scored the game's first 13 points, the underdog Broncos were even with the Zags through the first five minutes.
Goldenberger scored a season-high 14 points and had five rebounds in her final collegiate game. Alyssa Shoji added eight. The Broncos' All-WCC forward Lena Gipson played just 19 minutes, fouling-out with six points and four rebounds early in the second half.
GU collected 20 offensive rebounds Sunday, which turned into 26 second-chance points. Its bench combined for 29 points and they had 16 steals as a team.
"These past two days were so important for the future of this team," said Mountain about SCU's surprising run into the semis. "There is a different feel about this team now. You can see it, and not only on the basketball court. This was a really big weekend for us."