LAS VEGAS – It’ll be a clash of styles when Gonzaga faces Saint Mary’s Saturday in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference women’s basketball tournament.
The fourth-seeded Gaels edged No. 5 Pepperdine 67-63 at Orleans Arena on Friday. Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves and his team arrived to see the final four minutes, but a couple of Bulldogs’ assistants were on hand throughout for scouting purposes.
Top-seeded Gonzaga (25-4) split with the Gaels (21-9) in the regular season. Saint Mary’s ended GU’s 34-game WCC winning streak with a 66-63 upset in Spokane. Gonzaga pulled out a 75-70 win in Moraga.
“Both of those games could have gone either way,” Graves said.
“They pose problems because they have those two big inside kids (Danielle Mauldin and former Coeur d’Alene Viking Carli Rosenthal) and they’re physical. We play a finesse game. I think we play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, but they’re real physical inside and if we don’t push back we struggle.”
Saint Mary’s senior guard Alex Carbonel, sidelined since Feb. 4 with an ankle injury, returned to play six minutes against Pepperdine. “She has killed us in the past,” Graves said.
Asked if Gonzaga is more vulnerable than previous seasons, Saint Mary’s coach Paul Thomas said, “They still won the league so they have the utmost respect from our program.”
After Mauldin answered a question on today’s matchup, Thomas added, ‘And Courtney Vandersloot isn’t in uniform, thank God. I was reading something and I think she set the record against us with 16 assists here last year. I’m glad we’re not playing against her.”