LAS VEGAS – There will be motivation aplenty for Gonzaga and BYU in Tuesday’s West Coast Conference title game.
For the Zags, it’s a chance at payback for a pair of two-point losses to the Cougars, the second coming at home and possibly costing GU a chance to host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games next week.
And for BYU? Well, who gets a chance to beat Gonzaga – which moved up to No. 12 in Monday’s Associated Press rankings – three times in one year?
More important for the Cougars, they’re still somewhat on the bubble for an at-large berth with a 24-6 record and ranked 35th in RPI.
BYU struggled to get past Pepperdine in Monday’s late semifinal, trailing by six at the half and by one with five minutes left in the game before winning 68-63.
Six-foot-seven post BYU Sara Hamson will be the focal point, especially in the Zags’ half-court offense.
“It’s not what she (Hamson) does, it’s what she could do,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said after BYU beat the Zags 66-64 in the Kennel on Feb. 21. “I don’t know that we were shying away from her, but one of the things we do is that we’re strong. We’ll go through anybody, but she’s different.”
With seven straight wins, BYU is the WCC’s hottest team. GU (28-3) has won five in a row, but must go on without injured players Laura Stockton and Jill Townsend.
“Even though I like us better with Townie and Laura, I like us just fine with anyone else,” Fortier said Monday after beating Saint Mary’s in double-overtime.
“That’s where our depth we’ve had all year really came through,” Fortier said.
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