The West Conference tournament has entered the semifinal stage in Las Vegas, NV. The WCC regular season champion Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Santa Clara Broncos 72-62 on Monday afternoon and the BYU Cougars face the San Francisco Dons at 5 p.m. ET.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs went 16-1 during the regular season and have won the WCC regular season title 16 of the last 17 seasons. However, the Bulldogs have not managed to win the WCC tournament since 2018.
The Bulldogs feature the 2021 WCC Co-Player of the Year in senior forward Jenn Wirth. Wirth was second in scoring with 13.2 points and led her squad with 8.4 rebounds per contest, which was good for third in the conference. Jill Townsend joined her teammate on the All-WCC First Team list after leading her team with 13.8 points. LeeAnne Wirth, a WCC Honorable Mention, averaged 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Santa Clara ended up as the No. 4-seed in the tournament after San Diego had a COVID-19 case in their program. The Broncos feature two players on the All-WCC Second Team: junior guard Lindsey VanAllen and senior forward Merle Wiehl. VanAllen led the Broncos with 12.8 points this season while Wiehl contributed 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds. Ashlyn Herlihy, Wiehl’s front court teammate, was third in scoring on the team with 11.3 points and led the team in rebounding with 6.6 rebounds per contest.
No. 2 takes on No. 3
The BYU Cougars are led by sophomore Shaylee Gonzales who was named the 2021 WCC Co-Player of the Year and finished second in the WCC in scoring with 18.5 points per game. Additionally, Gonzales led her team with 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. Senior guard Paisley Harding finished second in scoring and assists with 13.7 points and 3.4 assists and her performance landed on the All-WCC First Team. Another super sophomore on the All-WCC First Team list is the conference’s leading rebounder Lauren Gustin who finished with 11.8 points and 12.9 rebounds.
The San Francisco Dons finished third in the WCC with a 10-7 conference record and are in the conference tournament semifinals for the first time since 2018. The Dons are led by freshman phenom Ioanna Krimili, who was named the WCC Newcomer of the Year and was named to the All-WCC First Team. Krimili led the conference in scoring with 18.7 points and shot 46 percent on 3-point shots, making an average of 3.5 threes per game. Senior Lucie Hoskova, who was featured on the All-WCC Second Team, averaged 14.1 points and 5.5 rebounds. Both marks were good for second on the team.
No. 4 Santa Clara Broncos (14-10, 9-8 WCC) vs. No. 1 Gonazaga Bulldogs (21-3, 16-1 WCC)
Jill Townsend led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 10 rebounds and also had four assists and two steals. Kayleigh Truong added 10 points and four assists and led the team with five steals. Lindsay VanAllen scored 17 points for Santa Clara in defeat.
No. 3 San Francisco Dons (15-9, 10-7 WCC) vs. No. 2 BYU Cougars (17-4, 13-3 WCC)
When: Monday, Mar. 9, at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
What to watch: The Dons ended the regular season with a thumping of these same Cougars, however BYU is 21-7 all-time against San Francisco. BYU is listed as a “First Four Out” team, meaning that they not only need a win today but will need to upset the Bulldogs in the final. 3-point shooting will be a point of interest today, as San Francisco was second in the WCC in 3-point percentage at 35 percent and first in 3-point defense at 29 percent. BYU was third in the conference in 3-point percentage at 33 percent and second in 3-point defense at 30 percent.