LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The University of Portland avenged a 22-point loss to Santa Clara University just two weeks ago by beating the fifth-seeded Broncos 75-64 in quarterfinal play of the 2011 WCC tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Santa Clara (11-19) senior Lena Gipson ended a terrific collegiate career by grabbing 16 rebounds (two shy of a WCC tournament record) and scoring 10 points. Alyssa Shoji – who scored 18 to lead SCU past USF in Friday's opening round – finished with 18 again and five 3s.
ReZina Teclemariam had a career game for fourth-seeded Portland (16-14), scoring a personal best 28. Natalie Day added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Pilots, who move on to play top-seed and No. 20 Gonzaga in Sunday's semifinals.
Teclemariam scored the first seven points for the Pilots and after Day scored in the lane and Teclemariam made two more free throws the Pilots had established an 11-3 lead to start the game.
"Give credit to Portland for coming out ready to play," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "I didn't think we did a good job of controlling transition. ReZina took over and we had a really hard time controlling her in the first half especially."
In the meantime Santa Clara came out making just 1 of 6 shots and turned the ball over five times in the first five minutes. After falling behind 20-8 midway through the half Shoji and Ricki Radanovich made 3s, beginning a 10-2 Bronco run, which got SCU within four at 22-18.
However, it was too much of Teclemariam in the opening half as she made 7 of 9 shots and scored 17 points before the break. Portland led 35-24 at halftime.
Day's three-pointer in the opening moments of the second half put Portland up by 14, 40-26.
The Broncos would not quit. Behind the shooting of Shoji and inside play of Gipson, the deficit was sliced in half and Radanovich's second trey of the afternoon made it 42-36 with 14:50 left. The pace picked up considerably but SCU could get no closer than six. Teclemariam's first basket of the second half made it a 10-point difference, 49-39, at the 11:35 mark.
Santa Clara was unable to capitalize on opportunities to close the gap, shooting 66 percent (14 for 21) from the free throw line in the second half while allowing Portland to shoot 51 percent from the floor.
Meagan Fulps' drive with 3:50 left made it 65-53, but Day answered with five quick points to seal the win for UP. Fulps added more offense in the closing minutes, overcoming a slow start shooting the ball to score 17 on the afternoon.
"I don't think anybody had their best game today," said Mountain. "We played well in spurts but it was not a collective effort throughout the whole game."
The loss ends the season for Santa Clara, who was much improved from a year ago, tying Portland for fourth place in the WCC's regular season standings.
"Not the way I wanted to end my senior season, but we came a long way from the beginning of the season to the end," said Gipson. "And quite honestly (coming a long way), from the beginning of my career at Santa Clara, when I transferred in (three years ago) to right now."