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Zags come up big

Tue., March 22, 2011

Courtney Vandersloot gave a raucous crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center what it wanted Monday night, making history with her 2,000th career point to go with her 1,000 assists.

Gonzaga’s superstar got what she wanted, a cherry on the top.

That cherry was an 89-75 win over UCLA in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and a second straight trip to the Sweet 16.

Kayla Standish continued her other-worldly shooting with her second straight 30-point game, and Vandersloot scored 29 to go with a school record-tying 17 assists, seven rebounds and five steals.

“Courtney and Kayla both came up big for the second night in a row,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. “Especially Courtney, with the pressure she had, needing 10 more points, to do what she did again is just phenomenal.”

Vandersloot became the first player in NCAA history to reach both milestones when she had a steal and a layup, giving the Bulldogs a 54-49 lead with 12:24 to go.

“I haven’t really had time to think, let it settle, but it’s an honor; it’s great,” Vandersloot said. “I never really thought I’d be here saying this, but to do it in front of my home crowd, it’s unbelievable.

“The win is just the cherry on top.”

Vandersloot and Standish had plenty of admirers on the court, their bench and in the bleachers.

“I just love playing with Courtney,” senior teammate Janelle Bekkering said. “She brings so much energy, she’s such a gifted player. You don’t get to play with those kinds of players all the time in your life. I’m glad we’ve got another game together and hopefully more after that.”

Bekkering raved about Standish, too.

“Thirty points both games. She’s just a beast in there,” Bekkering said. “Shooting outside, inside, rebounds. She’s such a talented player.

“It’s hard for other teams to guard her because she has that outside-inside threat.”

Junior Kelly Bowen was overwhelmed by her teammates.

“(Courtney) and Kayla literally took the game with two hands and took it over,” Bowen said. “There was nothing UCLA could do. They had no answer. It’s a privilege to be on their team.”

Broken but not out

It was no laughing matter when it happened, but Bowen was almost in stitches talking afterward about the broken nose she suffered.

Bowen took an elbow to the nose 4 minutes, 20 seconds into the game. She saw stars and knew something was wrong.

“I just caught an elbow. It was funny, it was the only part of her body that hit me, but she clocked me,” said Bowen, who was icing her nose in the locker room.

Bowen came back, playing 24 minutes. She didn’t score but she had four rebounds.

“I honestly don’t remember who it was,” Bowen said. “I just landed on the cameraman. And then I didn’t know what to do because blood was coming down my face and then I didn’t want to get back on the court. I was just standing out of bounds and I was crying.”

It took about 8 seconds before play was stopped.

“I thought, ‘Are they going to stop the game?’ ” Bowen said. “(The trainers) plugged it. It really hurt. The doctor said it’s straight so it should be fine and heal up. But I think they’re going to put me in a mask because if it gets hit again that’s when it will go crooked. I don’t want it to go crooked.”

Sweet 16, here come the Zags

After reaching the Sweet 16 last year, the Bulldogs want to go at least one more day deeper into the tournament.

“Our job isn’t done,” Bekkering said. “It’s been one of our goals to make it to the Elite Eight all season. It’s something that we focused on. We’re obviously happy with this win, but we’re not satisfied. We’re still hungry for some more.”

Said Bowen: “We’re ecstatic and just over the moon. We’ve still got a ways to go from here.”

Senior Claire Raap agreed.

“Sweet 16 is sweet but you always want to keep pushing,” Raap said.

Name, SchoolSr. YearAssistsPoints
Courtney Vandersloot, Gonzaga20111,1022,009
Suzie McConnell, Penn St.19881,3071,897
Andrea Nagy, Florida Int.19951,2911,812
Tine Freil, Pacific19931,0881,291

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