Women to battle No. 1 seed Gonzaga in semifinals of WCC Championships
With the 65-64 upset win over Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals of the 2015 West Coast Conference women’s basketball tournament, the BYU women’s basketball team (21-9) advanced to the semifinals. They will play No. 1 seed Gonzaga (24-6) on Mon. Mar. 8 at noon PST. The game will be carried live on BYUtv.
This will be the second time that the Zags and Cougars have met in the semifinals of the league tournament. During the 2012-13 season, BYU was the No. 4 seed and Gonzaga was the No. 1 seed. In that semifinal matchup, the Bulldogs recorded the 62-43 win. On a neutral court, Gonzaga has a 1-2 edge over BYU.
Lexi Eaton, a 5-foot-10 junior guard/forward combo, leads the Cougars in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game. She ranks third in rebounds, pulling down 6.5 boards. Morgan Bailey, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, the 2015 WCC Player of the Year, is in second place in scoring, tallying 17.5 points, while leading the way in rebounding, averaging 10.6 boards per game. Bailey became BYU’s 26th player to eclipse 1,000 points in the USF game in San Francisco. The team’s assist leader is Kylie Maeda, who averages 4.2 assists a game.
BYU is averaging 68.6 points per game, while shooting 43.4 percent from the field, 71.4 percent at the free-throw line and 35.0 percent from 3-point land. In 23 games (most recent vs. SMC in the WCC tourney) the Cougars have dished out more assists than their opponents and have pulled down more rebounds in 14 contests to date. When leading at the break, they are 16-2 and have scored at least 80 points in six games (most recent, 82 at Pacific). The team has had four players score in double figures in four contests, (most recent at Pacific) and has had three players finish with double-digit points in 11 games (most recent vs. Gonzaga). BYU head coach Jeff Judkins recorded his 300th win with the 77-58 home victory over Pepperdine on Feb. 5, 2015. With the home win vs. Portland, the program picked up the sixth straight 20-win season, the eighth under Judkins.
• Head coach: Jeff Judkins (Utah, ‘78) 14th season
• Team’s leading scorer: #21 L. Eaton, 20.8 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #41 M. Bailey, 10.6 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #15 K. Maeda, 4.2 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #23 M. Morrison, 1.6 spg
• Team’s blocks leader: #41, M. Bailey, .63 bpg
Gonzaga is 24-6 on the year and advanced to the semifinals with a 70-50 win over LMU.
Three players are scoring in double digits for Gonzaga, led by 13.7 points from Sunny Greinacher, while teammate Keani Albanez contributes 12.8 points. Elle Tinkle rounds out the double-figure scoring with 12.2 points. Shelby Cheslek tops the leaderboard in the rebound category, averaging 8.7 boards per contest.
The Zags score 71.9 points and grab 40.1 rebounds, while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 76.9 percent at the free-throw line. From 3-point range, Gonzaga is shooting 35.4 percent.
• Head coach: Lisa Fortier (Cal State Monterey Bay, 2004) First Season
• Team’s leading scorer: #14 S. Greinacher, 13.7 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #44 S. Cheslek, 8.7 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #5 G. Stirton, 3.1 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #24 K. Albanez, 2.4 spg
• Team’s blocks leader: #44 S. Cheslek, 1.6 bpg
The Bulldogs lead the overall series 11-6 and swept BYU this year. Head coach Jeff Judkins is 3-10 against the Zags. This will be the fourth time the two league foes have played on a neutral court.
The first meeting was played in Spokane on Dec. 27, with Gonzaga getting the, 78-62 win. Morgan Bailey and Lexi Eaton led the Cougars with 13 points apiece. Ashley Garfield and Xojian Harry led the rebounding effort with seven each. BYU tried to hold Gonzaga to a single-digit lead before the half after Eaton made a jump shot with 38 seconds left, but Georgia Stirton made a layup to take the 45-34 lead going into halftime. Gonzaga made 12 of 13 free throws while BYU only shot two of four. Two free throws from Makenzi Morrison gave BYU a chance, cutting the lead to 48-42 with 16:50 remaining. Gonzaga answered with a 10-0 run to push the lead back to double-digits, 58-42 with 14:15 left. Bailey’s layup with 10:42 remaining cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 10, 63-53. With 3:40 left, Garfield made a bucket to make it 58-74, but the Cougars were not able to score again until Kristine Fuller made a jumper with 50 seconds left. Alohi Robins-Hardy made two free throws to make the final score 62-78.
In the second matchup, the Zags got the seven-point, 73-66 victory in Provo on Feb. 28. Makenzi Morrison led BYU with 20 points and made a career-high and team season-high 16 of her 18 free throw attempts. Bailey scored 17 points with Kylie Maeda adding 12 points for the Cougars. The Bulldogs took a 34-28 advantage at halftime. Both teams started the second half trading baskets and shooting over 50 percent and with 15:11 remaining, BYU trailed 46-39. The Bulldogs used an 8-2 run capped by a Tinkle three and hit 7 of 9 shots from the field to push their lead to 58-45 with 9:20 left in the game. BYU cut the lead to four, 62-58 and to two, 64-62 with 3:28 left, but that was as close as it would get.
A win over Gonzaga would send BYU into the finals of the 2015 WCC championships to be played on Tuesday, Mar. 10 at noon.
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