March 8, 2010 in Sports

Gonzaga women rout Pepperdine for WCC title

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Gonzaga’s Janelle Bekkering, top, and Pepperdine’s Skye Barnett scramble for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the West Coast Conference women’s tournament Monday, March 8, 2010, in Las Vegas.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

LAS VEGAS — Courtney Vandersloot scored 19 points, Heather Bowman added 14 and No. 18 Gonzaga rolled to its 17th straight victory, 76-48 over Pepperdine on Monday in the West Coast Conference tournament final.

Kayla Standish had 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Zags (27-4), who dominated the conference with a 14-0 regular-season run followed by tournament blowouts of Santa Clara and Pepperdine at the Orleans Arena.

Lauren Bell scored 16 points for the Waves (20-11), whose otherwise successful season included three one-sided losses to Gonzaga, the nation’s fifth highest-scoring team.

Pepperdine got off to a 3 for 20 shooting start and never seriously threatened the Zags, who have won six straight regular-season conference titles.

Led by two-time WCC player of the year Vandersloot and conference career scoring-leader Bowman, Gonzaga hasn’t lost since back-to-back defeats against nationally-ranked Baylor and Texas A&M in a mid-December holiday tournament in Las Vegas.

The Zags finished a dominant WCC season after returning four starters and 12 letterwinners from last season’s second-round NCAA tournament team. They won their regular-season West Coast games by an average of 30.6 points, with none closer than 12 points.

Vandersloot was named the tournament MVP despite scoring just 10 points in Gonzaga’s 40-point victory over Santa Clara in Sunday’s semifinals. She scored 14 in the first half against Pepperdine, keeping the Zags ahead while her teammates struggled.

Gonzaga led just 34-26 at halftime after shooting 11 for 32, but Vandersloot hit a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half. The Zags kept shooting 3s long after the game was decided, repeatedly going ahead by 30 points while hitting 63 percent of their second-half shots.

Leading-scorer Miranda Ayim managed just 10 points for Pepperdine, while No. 2 scorer Jazmine Jackson had 10 rebounds but six points on 1 for 9 shooting. Pepperdine went 15 for 59 (25.4 percent) from the field under Gonzaga’s relentless defensive pressure, although the Waves also missed a slew of open shots.

Pepperdine finished third in the regular-season conference standings, but upset second-seeded Saint Mary’s to reach the tournament final. The Waves lost to Gonzaga 107-64 in January and 87-45 last month.

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