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Gonzaga runs away from SCU

Back with the unedited game story from Gonzaga's 87-47 blowout over Santa Clara. Read on.

By Jim Meehan; (208) 765-7131


LAS VEGAS – One statistic on the box score said it all: Gonzaga points off turnovers 27, Santa Clara 2. OK, make it two: GU’s edge in second-chance points, 18-4.


And that was with 15:45 minutes remaining in the second half.


The top-seeded Bulldogs showed their dominating regular-season form, piling up points in a hurry and pounding Santa Clara for the third time this season, the latest an 87-47 blowout in WCC women’s tournament semifinals in front of 2,504, roughly 2,200 of those Bulldogs’ fans, Sunday at the Orleans Arena.


The 17th-ranked Bulldogs’ 17th straight win propelled them into today’s championship game against …


 No. 2 Saint Mary's or No. 3 Pepperdine.

“They have 12 people that can go for 15-20 points a night and their transition game … they got us into taking quick shots and long rebounds turn into layups at the other end,” said Broncos coach Jennifer Mountain, who was an assistant at Gonzaga under coach Kelly Graves from 2001-08 and helped recruit many of the current Bulldogs. “They’re so long and athletic in every spot, they’re very dangerous.”


Gonzaga (26-4), coming off an eight-day break from its final regular-season game, sputtered early against the eight-seeded Broncos (5-27), leading just 13-12. At that point, Courtney Vandersloot and Heather Bowman, GU’s top two scorers, didn’t have a point and were a combined 0 of 6.


That changed seconds later when Bowman posted up and made a layup, triggering a decisive 28-5 run. It turned into a track meet as Santa Clara’s turnovers led to a flurry of Bulldogs’ baskets.


“We usually get one or two (runs) a game,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. “We’ll have a 20-3 or 25-3 kind run. That’s what we did. Our defense kind of kept us in there until we got it rolling.”


Gonzaga wasn’t picky. It ran after turnovers, made SCU shots and missed SCU shots. The spurt lasted 7:30 minutes and when it was over, Gonzaga led 41-17.


It took Bowman’s offense a few minutes to perk up, but her interior defense on forward Lena Gipson helped keep SCU in check while Vivian Frieson’s six points lifted GU through some offensive struggles. Gipson, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds in the Broncos’ upset win over Portland on Saturday, was scoreless in the first half and picked up three fouls.


“We knew we had to be physical with her,” Bowman said. “We had a plan to deny her the ball and try to keep it out of her hands as much as possible.”


Gipson had a couple of baskets early in the second half, but exited with 14:59 remaining after her fifth foul, a charge drawn by Bowman.


Bowman made 9 of her last 11 shots and scored a team-high 18 points. Frieson finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Vandersloot ended with 10 points, eight assists and four boards. Janelle Bekkering chipped in 10 points.


Gonzaga had 16 steals – three each by Frieson, Vandersloot and Kelly Bowen – leading to 43 points off turnovers. SCU, playing its third game in three days, committed 32 turnovers, nine by freshman point guard Telisha Anderson.


“I have a freshman point guard that has played really about 6-7 games total, going against Courtney, who is a pretty darn good player,” Mountain said. “Telisha grew up a ton over the weekend, but she’s also still a freshman. We kind of ran out of gas a little bit.”


The Bulldogs grabbed 20 offensive boards, which generated 26 second-chance points. GU’s final numbers (87 points, 48.1 percent shooting, 20 turnovers) were in the ballpark of its season-long averages (81 points, 47.8 percent and 19.4 assists).


But the Bulldogs say there’s room for improvement.


“One thing we need to work on is finishing, I think you saw that today,” Frieson said. “Defensively we’re up there, but not exactly where we want to be. If we’re not playing good defense, we’re not playing good offense.”



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