Gonzaga To Face Saint Mary's In WCC Semifinal
March 8, 2003
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball team will face Saint Mary's College Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN in the semifinal nightcap of the West Coast Conference Tournament from the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Gaels, the No. 5 seed into the tourney, earned the semifinal berth with a 75-71 win over No. 4 seed Pepperdine University on Saturday night. The Gaels had won Thursday's opening round matchup with Santa Clara for the right to face Pepperdine.
Gonzaga and Saint Mary's last met in the 2001 tournament first round at the Jenny Craig Pavilion, the Bulldogs prevailing 105-65. Gonzaga (22-7) defeated Saint Mary's (15-14) in both regular-season meetings - a hard fought 56-53 decision in Moraga, Calif., and a 73-49 in The Kennel.
In the other semifinal, No. 3 University of San Francisco, a 70-56 winner over No. 7 Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, will meet No. 2 University of San Diego in the 6:30 p.m. opener. Gonzaga and USD, as the top two seeds, received byes into the semifinals.
All-WCC performer Samuel Saint-Jean who averaged 9.3 ppg and 3.7 assists/game paces the Gaels, who lost six of their last eight games entering the WCC Tournament. Anthony Woodardsg was named the WCC Defender of the Year in helping SMC to a league-best 64.0 ppg. The Gaels have their best seed since a No. 4 finish in 1998 after winning the tourney title with a No. 2 seed in 1997.
WCC Player of the Year and All-District 14 first-team selection Blake Stepp paces the Bulldogs. The junior from Eugene, Ore., averaged 17.9 ppg to rank third overall in the WCC. His 20.6 ppg in conference games only paced the WCC. The Bulldogs also had junior forward Cory Violette and sophomore forward Ronny Turiaf named to the All-WCC squad.
Gonzaga is aiming for its fifth straight WCC Tournament crown, and its sixth since 1995. The Bulldogs became the first school in WCC history to win four straight tournament titles last season, defeating Pepperdine 96-90 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
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