Zags Fall In WCC Tournament Final
March 9, 2008
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Despite a gritty performance, the Gonzaga University women's basketball team faltered in the championship game of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Bulldogs, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, dropped a heartbreaking 70-66 decision to the University of San Diego, the No. 3 seed, at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, Calif. Sunday afternoon.
"I want to congratulate USD," said head coach Kelly Graves. "They played a good game and we wish them well. We played a good game after the first 10 minutes but it was too big of a hole to get out of. If we took the lead I thought it would go our way. I feel bad for Michelle Elliott, our lone healthy senior."
Sophomore Heather Bowman, the WCC Player of the Year, did all she could to try and help Gonzaga pull out the win. Bowman, who was named to the All-Tournament team, poured in her third-straight 25-plus performance, finishing with 25 points, along with seven rebounds and one assist.
"When we were down 17 coach (Graves) told us not to try and get it back on one possession but one play at a time," said Bowman. "We chipped away and got it close. We all believed this is where we get over the hump, but t didn't happen. If you look at last year we came out strong. But you can't come out against a team at home like we did today. It will be a tough week but we can't do anything about it."
Vandersloot, who also was named to the All-Tournament team, finished with 10 points, seven of which came in the opening half. The freshman point guard also dished out three assists, made one steal and brought down two rebounds.
The reason San Diego was able to earn the four-point victory was due largely in part by the hot shooting of Morgan Henderson. Henderson, who finished with 20 points, hit 6-of-8 from behind the three-point arc, including hitting all five attempts in the first half.
"Henderson is their main threat," stated Graves in the post-game press conference. "She can shoot, maybe not that well, but we over helped and you can't leave a good shooter open. It kind of became a snowball effect."
Another key to the Toreros victory was Kiva Herman. Herman finished with 16 points, 14 scored in the second half. Six of her points came in the final 4:29 when Gonzaga was surging to take the lead.
When the Zags cut the lead to one, 60-59, at 4:29, Herman hit a jumper to put the Toreros back up by three. When Bowman nailed a jumper to again get the Zags within one of tying, Herman made two free throws and then hit a jumper to seemingly put the game out of the Bulldogs reach.
Gonzaga did claw its way back from an early first half 17-point deficit to go into the locker room down only nine, 38-29.
The Zags, who closed out the regular-season at 24-8, will now wait to see if they get an at-large bid into the NCAA Division I Tournament. Selection Monday is set for March 17 at 4 p.m.
"We scheduled up," explained Graves on his team's non-conference schedule. "People forget we were without Bowman for five games and went 2-3 without her. Then we were without Vivian Frieson for some games. I think we're something like 17-2 when we've had our team together. We'll at least be in the conversation and we have a good RPI. It will be a long week waiting it out, though.
I'm going to give them three days off. We'll practice Thursday, watch the selection show on Monday. We know we're in the post-season somewhere."
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