Bulldog Men, Women Face Saint Mary's In WCC Tournament

Feb. 25, 2001

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's and women's basketball teams will each meet Saint Mary's College in their respective West Coast Conference Tournament openers this week at the new Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus.

The Bulldog women (5-22, 0-14) will enter the tourney as the eighth seed and face top-seeded Saint Mary's (22-5, 11-3) at 6 p.m. Thursday to open the second session. The Gaels shared the regular-season crown with Santa Clara University but won the top seed into the tournament by beating the Broncos twice during the regular season.

Top-seeded Gonzaga's men (21-6, 13-1) have known for a week they'll face the Gaels (2-25, 0-14) when the men's portion of the tournament opens Saturday. The Bulldogs clinched the regular-season title a week ago at home, and Saint Mary's was relegated to the eighth spot. Gonzaga and SMC will play the second game of the first session that will tip off at approximately 2 p.m. The noon opener has No. 2 seed Pepperdine University (20-7, 12-2) meeting No. 7 University of Portland (11-16, 4-10), with the Bulldogs and Gaels meeting 30 minutes following the conclusion of that game.

Other first-round women's games have No. 4 Pepperdine University (20-9, 10-4) meeting No. 5 University of San Francisco (12-15, 5-9) in the noon opener on Thursday. No. 2 Santa Clara (20-6, 11-3) meets No. 7 University of Portland (13-14, 4-10) 30 minutes following the completion of game one. No. 3 Loyola Marymount University (19-8, 10-4) and No. 6 San Diego (10-15, 5-9)conclude the first day's action 30 minutes following the completion of the GU-SMC contest. LMU earned the third seed over Pepperdine by virtue of a blind draw as the teams were still tied after all tiebreaker options had been exhausted. The teams split their regular-season series. USF earned the fifth seed over USD because the Lady Dons split the season series with Saint Mary's while USD lost both games to the Gaels. USF and USD split their regular-season series, and the next tiebreaker criteria is how the tied teams did against other teams in descending order of conference finish.

The 6 p.m. session of the men's tournament on Saturday will have No. 3 Santa Clara (18-11, 10-4) facing No. 6 Loyola Marymount University (9-18, 5-9). The first round of the men's action concludes with No. 4 San Diego (15-12, 7-7) meeting No. 5 University of San Franciso (12-17, 5-9). USF earned the fifth seed over LMU because the Dons swept the season series from the Lions.

Gonzaga's men will be aiming for their third straight WCC Tournament title and with it the WCC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs will enter the tournament for the fourth time as the top seed. The Bulldogs lost in the tournament semifinals in 1994, fell in the championship game in 1998 and won the title in 1999 in previous appearances as the top seed. Gonzaga's other WCC Tournament titles came in 1995 as the fourth seed and last season as the second seed.

Gonzaga first-year head women's coach Kelly Graves will be facing his former team on Thursday. Graves guided the Gaels to the WCC Tournament title in 1999. Gonzaga will be looking for its first win in the WCC Tournament since 1994 when the Bulldogs advanced to the title game in the old four-team format. Gonzaga is winless in the six previous tournaments that have included all eight teams.

The women's semifinals will be played Friday beginning at 6 p.m., with the men's semifinals Sunday at 5:30 p.m. The highest remaining seed will face the lowest remaining seed, and the two middle remaining seeds will meet in the other semifinal. The winner of the late game in the first round is guaranteed to play in the late semifinal.

The women will crown their champion Sunday at 1 p.m. PST in a game televised on most FOX Sports Net affiliates on the West Coast. The men's championship game is slated for Monday at 9 p.m. PST on ESPN. The WCC Tournament champion receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Tickets to the WCC Tournament are on sale through the Gonzaga ticket office by calling (509) 323-4202 on Monday.



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