Women's Basketball Wins 59-58 Thriller Against Gonzaga, Advances to Monday's WCC Semis

Women's Basketball Wins 59-58 Thriller Against Gonzaga, Advances to Monday's WCC Semis

WCC Basketball Tournament Central

Video (courtesy WCC): Game Highlights | Postgame Press Conference

Updated: March 4, 2016 2:45 p.m. PT

LAS VEGAS - Marie Bertholdt scored a game-high 20 points, including the game-winning free throw with 14.9 seconds left, to lift the Santa Clara women's basketball team to a thrilling 59-58 victory over Gonzaga in Thursday's quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.

Lori Parkinson scored 18 points for the fourth-seeded Broncos (23-7), who advance to face top-seeded BYU (25-5) in Monday's semifinals. The Cougars downed No. 9 Pepperdine, 72-59, Friday afternoon.

Shelby Cheslek had a team-high 14 points and game-high 10 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (18-13).

The Broncos ran into foul trouble down the stretch as Parkinson and fellow forward Morgan McGwire fouled out.

"This is nothing new for us," said Bertholdt. "We talked about going out there and giving it our all. When players started to foul out, we used it more as motivation and we kept competing to play our hearts out for those that couldn't tonight."

Santa Clara never trailed in the fourth quarter and led by as many as five points. The Bulldogs tied the game three times in the final five minutes, the final time with 39 seconds left when Jill Barta connected on a 3-point play to even the score at 58-all.

But Bertholdt was fouled in the paint with 14.9 on the clock on the ensuing possession. She missed the first free throw and made the second.

"I was confident before both shots," said Bertholdt. "Even though I missed the first, it didn't shake my confidence. I'm glad that that missed shot didn't end up hurting us but I'm comfortable at the line so it didn't rattle me."

Gonzaga was unable to get a shot off until Laura Stockton attempted a desperation 3-pointer with three seconds left, but it was well off the mark, sending the Broncos to the WCC semifinals for the first time since 2010.

The Broncos turned the game around when they came out with a renewed sense of purpose to start the second half and went on a 13-2 run to take a 37-31 lead. The Zags were forced to call a timeout to try and slow down the Santa Clara momentum in the middle of the run but it didn't work as the Broncos followed with two more buckets.

"We were disappointed in the rebounding effort in the first half," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "We were getting beat on the glass pretty good and rebounding is our thing, so we wanted to do a better job, which we did. We also talked about leaving your heart on the floor. There was nothing to save energy for. Our intensity raised a level and that was the biggest difference to those first few minutes."

The Broncos have now beaten Gonzaga twice in one season for the first time since 2002-03. The Broncos downed the Bulldogs, 71-64, on Jan. 28.

"We'll do a lot of film and a lot of mental preparation in the next three days," said Payne. "We'll talk about what worked and what didn't work once we know who our next opponent is. We're just excited to be playing another day. We'll rest a lot and we'll be ready to go Monday."

Santa Clara will face BYU at noon Monday in Orleans Arena. Tickets can be purchased through the Orleans Arena box office.

WCC Tournament Schedule/Results

Thursday, March 3
No. 9 Pepperdine 81, No. 8 Pacific 72 (First Round)
No. 7 Loyola Marymount 85, No. 10 Portland 72 (First Round)
No. 6 San Francisco 84, No. 3 San Diego 80 in OT (Quarterfinal)
No. 4 Santa Clara 59, No. 5 Gonzaga 58 (Quarterfinal)
Friday, March 4
No. 1 BYU 72, No. 9 Pepperdine 59 (Quarterfinal)
No. 2 Saint Mary's vs. No. 7 Loyola Marymount, 2 p.m. (BYUtv, TheW.tv) - Quarterfinal
Monday, March 7 (Semifinals)
No. 4 Santa Clara vs. No. 1 BYU/No. 9 Pepperdine, Noon (BYUtv, TheW.tv)
No. 6 San Francisco vs. No. 2 Saint Mary's/No. 7 Loyola Marymount, 2 p.m. (BYUtv, TheW.tv)
Tuesday, March 8
Championship Game, 1 p.m. (ESPNU, WatchESPN)

All times Pacific