Las Vegas, NV – The Gonzaga women won an exciting 78-77 double-overtime WCC tournament semifinal over St. Mary’s yesterday but the win was extremely costly. While the team briefly celebrated Zykera Rice’s game-winning lay-up their thoughts turned to two players who each suffered serious season ending leg injuries. Senior point guard Laura Stockton went down with a knee injury in the second quarter while super-sub Jill Townsend was injured after colliding with a Gael player early in the second overtime. Townsend appeared to suffer a broken leg. The two injuries put a major damper on what has been a tremendous season for Gonzaga. Their only losses this season have been against likely No.1-seed Notre Dame and two close ones to conference foe BYU.
The short-handed Bulldogs faced BYU for the third time this season today in the WCC title game. BYU (25-6, 16-3) made it three wins in a row against Gonzaga, gradually pulling away for a 82-68 win. The Cougars used a 23-7 second quarter edge to take a 42-30 halftime lead. They extended the lead to 16 points in the third quarter and were not seriously threatened the rest of the game.
The major difference in the content was BYU’s three-point shooting. They were 13-of-25 overall while Gonzaga shot only 6-of-17 from deep. Brenna Chase made five shots from distance in the first half and ended the game with 25 points on 7-of-12 from deep. Zykera Rice tried to keep the Bulldogs in the game converting all of her twelve free throws in scoring a team-high 25 points. A three-pointer by Gonzaga’s Chandler Smith cut the deficit to 60-52 with 1:13 left in the third quarter. A technical foul was called on the BYU bench near the end of the quarter. The two made free throws reduced BYU’s lead to seven. However, then Shaylee Gonzalez was fouled on the three-point attempt on the last shot of the quarter. She made two of the free tosses and the Cougars led after three 65-56.
The Bulldogs couldn’t get any closer in the final stanza with BYU gradually extending their lead as they closed out the 14-point win. BYU gets the WCC’s automatic NCAA bid while Gonzaga (28-4, 16-3) will receive an at-large berth as they try to regroup prior to their first NCAA contest. BYU’s Paisley Johnson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. She ended the title game with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, hitting 3-of-4 from deep.