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The Gonzaga women’s basketball team won its eighth consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season championship and it proved to be much harder than the seventh a year ago. And perhaps more impressive.
RECORD: 24-5 overall COMING UP: Saturday vs. TBD, WCC tournament semifinals
LAS VEGAS – ’Tis the season for those March Madness buzzwords: RPI, strength of schedule, bubble teams, automatic bids, Bracketology and Selection Sunday. Pardon Gonzaga if it isn’t crunching every number or hanging on every word from the so-called experts this time around. The second-seeded Bulldogs (24-5) enter the West Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena knowing they’re a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament. Most projections list them as a No. 6 or 7 seed.
LAS VEGAS – In the garden of Gonzaga basketball have grown any number of dubious truths. The Bulldogs are dragged down by a weak league, say. Their thoroughly spoiled devotees take the program’s prolonged dominance for granted. And the players – each recruiting class more highly regarded than the last – are increasingly nonchalant about the whole Zag thing. It doesn’t mean as much to them. Some of these can be weeds, mistaken for flowers.
LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga has demonstrated game after game that it can score points in a hurry and run the floor like a track team. On Monday, the Bulldogs showed they can win when forced out of their comfort zone.
LAS VEGAS – It had all the elements of a typical Gonzaga women’s basketball rout of an overmatched opponent, and a couple others that were particularly satisfying for head coach Kelly Graves. On a day when Courtney Vandersloot set a WCC Tournament record with 14 assists and mainstays Kayla Standish (23 points) and Katelan Redmon (12 points, eight rebounds) made their customary contributions, Gonzaga also received a big effort from Janelle Bekkering, its bench and its defense in crushing Portland 96-71 in front of 2,383 Sunday at the Orleans Arena.
Gonzaga men beat Saint Mary's 75-63 in the WCC Tournament championship game Monday
LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga’s Marquise Carter showed why he was voted WCC newcomer of the year and reserve wing Mike Hart showed why head coach Mark Few trusts him in critical defensive situations. Second-seeded Gonzaga repelled numerous second-half rallies by No. 3 San Francisco as Carter hit seven free throws in the final 43 seconds and the Bulldogs hung on for a 71-67 victory in the WCC men’s basketball tournament semifinals Sunday in front of 7,489 at the Orleans Arena.
The WCC will grow to nine teams next year with the addition of BYU. A nine-team configuration will obviously impact scheduling and the conference tournament format. Those topics, and several others, were addressed when a handful of reporters sat down with WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich prior to the Saint Mary's-Santa Clara men's semifinal.
It had all the elements of a typical Gonzaga women’s basketball rout of an overmatched opponent, and a couple others that were particularly satisfying for head coach Kelly Graves.
LAS VEGAS – A year ago at the WCC women’s basketball tournament, Portland coach Jim Sollars stated that Gonzaga was the best team in conference history. His opinion has changed this season.
Gonzaga defeats San Francisco 71-67 to advance to the finals in the WCC men's tournament on Sunday, March 6, 2011. Gonzaga will face Saint Mary’s in the final game.