Category archive: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike talks about how well the Cardinal rebounded against Gonzaga in Monday's regional final victory over the Bulldogs.

Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen talks about advancing to her fourth consecutive Final Four and how the Cardinal's zone defense helped them against Gonzaga.

Gonzaga's Kayla Standish talks about how the Bulldogs must stop Stanford on the boards, and how their calm demeanor has helped them thus far.

Stanford's Kayla Pedersen talks about the experience factor for her and the Cardinal going into the Elite Eight, but also how the energy from their freshmen has helped.

Gonzaga's Katelan Redmon talks about getting a chance to play for a Final Four berth in her hometown, and what the Bulldogs will have to do to top Stanford.

Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike talks about her excitement in her first NCAA tournament and how she's trying to help Stanford make its fourth consecutive Final Four.

Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves talks about how the Bulldogs' withstood Louisville's rally in their 76-69 Sweet 16 victory Saturday.

Gonzaga's Janelle Bekkering, who had 15 points in the Bulldogs' 76-69 win over Louisville, talks about the importance of getting to the foul line and the atmosphere at Spokane Arena.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves summed up the effect that his point guard, Courtney Vandersloot, has not just on the outcome of a game, but on those watching it.

"She's mesmerizing," Graves said. "It's hard to take your eyes off her."

It certainly was Saturday, as the senior point guard led the Bulldogs to the program's first Elite Eight and broke an NCAA record while she was at it. Gonzaga beat Louisville 76-69. The No. 11 seed Bulldogs are a victory away from becoming the lowest-seeded team to make the Women's Final Four.

The No. 7 seed Cardinals lost starting post player Monique Reid to a groin injury; she hurt herself stretching before the game, much to the dismay of Louisville coach Jeff Walz. And while Reid tried to come back, she wasn't effective, finishing with just two points in five minutes. That was a tremendous blow to Louisville's hopes in this game, as Reid is so important to the Cardinals' attack. Even so, just as they did in their second-round upset of Xavier, the Cardinals rallied and made Saturday's semifinal a close game.

"They definitely picked up the intensity, and I don't think we really went with them," Vandersloot said of the Cardinals. "It was kind of like we settled for that 20-point lead we had, and this time of year, you can't do that. They also switched that zone, which I think really effected us. Especially me, I wasn't doing the things I had to get us to that point. But down the stretch, we had enough of a lead, and we were lucky enough to make some plays and big steals at the end."

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Courtney Vandersloot
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonCourtney Vandersloot had 29 points, seven assists, seven steals and five rebounds, and broke the NCAA D-I season assists record.

Yes, unlike Xavier, Gonzaga was able to hold off the comeback. It was a team effort, but Vandersloot was still the story of the night. She had 29 points, seven assists, seven steals and five rebounds. She was all over the court, to the delight of the Spokane Arena crowd that was heavily -- to say the least -- in favor of the hometown Bulldogs.

With her fifth assist of the night, Vandersloot broke the NCAA Division I season assists record (355) held by Penn State's Suzie McConnell. Vandersloot now has 358, and a chance to keep adding to it in Monday's regional final (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET).

The lowest seed previously to make it to the Final Four was No. 9 Arkansas in 1998, but there is a little asterisk with that. The Razorbacks that season were in the region with Stanford as the No. 1, but the Cardinal lost two players to ACL injuries shortly before the tournament started. Stanford was upset by No. 16 seed Harvard in the first round, which most definitely opened up the region.

This year, Gonzaga also has gotten a "lucky" break, if you will, as the school hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in its gym and now are in Spokane Arena, about five minutes from campus, for the regional.

No doubt it has been a tremendous advantage for the Bulldogs, but so has the play of Vandersloot. She continues to be one of the big stars of the NCAA tournament, and those who haven't see her before now realize what they've been missing.

"She's really a step or two ahead of everybody on the basketball court," Graves said. "Quite frankly, I've run out of adjectives, there's just so much to describe her. No. 1, competitive, No. 2, very skilled. Her vision out on the basketball court is amazing."

The Bulldogs (31-4) led by 11 points at halftime, and it appeared Gonzaga was going to win comfortably. But the Cardinals refused to go down without a fight, led by freshman Shoni Schimmel, who redeemed herself after struggling mightily with her shooting in the first half (1-for-12 from the field).

She finished with a team-high 18 points on 8-of-23 shooting. Keshia Hines had 17 points and Tia Gibbs 16 for Louisville, which ended its season 22-13.

Janelle Bekkering had 15 points for Gonzaga, Kelly Bowden 12 and Katelan Redmon 10. Kayla Standish, after scoring 30 in each of the Bulldogs' first two games, had just eight against the Louisville defense.

But Vandersloot made up for that, and now the regional final is guaranteed to draw another big crowd. There's another chance for the city of Spokane to see the Vandersloot show.

"We expected to be here. We all believed," Vandersloot said. "Regardless of our seed, we knew we had the opportunity of a lifetime. Not a lot of teams get this. And we feel like we have the ability, the team, the fan support to do it. Everything seems to be in the right place at this point."

Sixteen teams are perfect in the women's NCAA tournament so far. But in the Women's Tournament Challenge, there are no perfect brackets.

Only one bracket correctly picked the Sweet 16, and that was after going 31-for-32 (the only incorrect game was Marquette over Texas) in the first round.

Two users got each first-round pick correct and then missed just one game in the second round.

The most popular result for the Sweet 16 was a bracket that had 10 of the 16 teams in the regional semifinals correct. Brackets with 26 of 32 teams correct were the most popular result after the first round.

A look at each region:

Spokane

• Just 0.65 percent of entries had Xavier to win the national championship.

• Meanwhile, 66.4 percent of brackets had Louisville meeting Xavier in the second round, but only 13 percent believed Louisville would win the matchup, while 3.3 percent of users have Louisville in the Elite Eight and 0.3 percent have it in the Final Four.

• UCLA, the No. 3 seed in the Spokane Regional, was predicted by 76 percent of brackets to make the Sweet 16, 34.5 percent to make the Elite Eight and 4.5 percent to win its region. Only 9.3 percent of users had Gonzaga making it this far, and only 1.8 percent have the team in the Final Four. While 31.3 percent overall predicted the matchup between Gonzaga and UCLA, 26.7 percent had Gonzaga winning.

• One percent of entries had Louisville and Gonzaga playing against each other in the third round, and 63.1 percent of those predictors had Louisville winning.

• Just 0.5 percent of entries predicted that Stanford, UNC, Louisville and Gonzaga would make the Sweet 16.

Potential Elite Eight matchups:
• Stanford vs. Gonzaga: 2.4 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 83.7 percent of those entries predicting Stanford wins
• Stanford vs. Louisville: 2.6 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 93.1 percent of those entries predicting Stanford wins
• UNC vs. Gonzaga: 0.2 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 66.6 percent of those entries predicting UNC wins
• UNC vs. Louisville: 0.3 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 75.5 percent of those entries predicting UNC wins

Philadelphia

• 19.1 percent of entries predicted that UConn, Georgetown, Duke and DePaul would make the Sweet 16 out of this region.

• 98.6 percent of brackets had UConn in the Sweet 16, 96.3 percent in the Elite Eight and 89.6 percent in the Final Four. 51.5 percent of brackets have UConn winning it all.

What does that mean? Not good things for Georgetown: 29 percent had Georgetown advancing to the Sweet 16, but only 0.6 percent have the Hoyas making it any further. 28.7 percent of entries predicted this matchup against UConn, but only 1.5 percent have Georgetown ousting the No. 1 seed. Only 73 brackets predicted Georgetown as national champion.

• 68.6 percent of entries predicted Duke facing off against DePaul in the Sweet 16, and fans stuck with the No. 2 seed at a clip of 76.1 percent. Only 6.5 percent have Duke making the Final Four. DePaul was predicted by 72.2 percent of brackets to make the Sweet 16, 18.6 percent to make the Elite Eight and 1.2 percent to make the Final Four. It is the lowest No. 3 seed in that regard (all the other No. 3 seeds received at least 3.3 percent). But DePaul was the only No. 3 seed to survive.

Potential Elite Eight matchups:
• UConn vs. Duke: 72.8 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 92.6 percent of those entries predicting UConn wins
• UConn vs. DePaul: 18 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 94.9 percent of those entries predicting UConn wins
• Georgetown vs. Duke: 0.3 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 73 percent of those entries predicting Duke wins
• Georgetown vs. DePaul: 0.2 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 65.2 percent of those entries predicting DePaul wins

Dayton

• 23.9 percent of entries had Tennessee, OSU, ND and OU in the Sweet 16.

Oklahoma was the biggest surprise, selected by only 35.8 percent of entries to make the Sweet 16. 87.9 percent of entries had the second-round Oklahoma versus Miami matchup, but only 39.2 percent had Oklahoma with the upset. And 3.7 percent of users predicted Miami to make the Final Four; the upset disrupted 17.5 percent of brackets who had the Hurricanes in the Elite Eight.

• Users predicted that it would be a no-brainer that Tennessee would advance to this point: 96.6 percent of users had Tennessee going at least two rounds. Now, Tennessee faces Ohio State in the Sweet 16, a common matchup selected by 72.4 percent of users. 88.1 percent have Tennessee advancing from that matchup and a total of 86.6 percent of brackets have the Lady Vols in the Elite Eight. 65.7 percent have Tennessee in the Final Four. Ohio State makes the Elite Eight in only 9.7 percent of brackets and the Final Four in 4.3 percent.

• Despite the early-round confidence in Tennessee, it is the least-selected No. 1 seed to make the Final Four (Stanford: 79.5 percent; UConn: 89.6 percent; Baylor: 78.3 percent).

• Only 33.1 percent of entries predicted a Notre Dame-Oklahoma matchup; 76.3 percent of those users have Notre Dame advancing and 70 percent out of all brackets have the Irish in the Elite Eight. 21.9 percent have Notre Dame in the Final Four, the most of any of the No. 2 seeds by a large margin. Oklahoma was predicted to make it to the Elite Eight in only 9.7 percent of brackets, while 2.1 percent believed it could make the Final Four.

Potential Elite Eight matchups:
• Tennessee vs. Notre Dame: 61.9 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 73.1 percent of those entries predicting Tennessee wins
• Tennessee vs. Oklahoma: 8.1 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 81.8 percent of those entries predicting Tennessee wins
• OSU vs. Notre Dame: 6.5 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 63.8 percent of those entries predicting Notre Dame wins
• OSU vs. Oklahoma: 1.1 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 65.3 percent of those entries predicting Ohio State wins

Dallas

• Just 6 percent of entries predicted that Baylor, Green Bay, Georgia and Texas A&M would all make the Sweet 16.

• Michigan State was heavily favored to advance over Green Bay, according to our users, who had MSU in 61.9 percent of brackets and Green Bay in only 34.3 percent of brackets. 4.3 percent of brackets had MSU making the Elite Eight and 2.1 percent had it in the Final Four.

• 33.8 percent of entries had Baylor versus Green Bay in the Sweet 16. Almost all of them, 92 percent, have Baylor advancing to the Elite Eight. Overall, 91.1 percent of the brackets have Baylor in the Elite Eight and 78.3 percent have the Lady Bears in the Final Four. Green Bay is predicted by only 1.8 percent of brackets to make the Final Four.

• 21.6 percent of brackets had No. 6 seed Georgia in the Sweet 16, and 17.3 percent of all brackets had it facing Texas A&M in the next round. 82.7 percent of those predicting the matchup have Texas A&M advancing, but that is no surprise, as 63 percent of all users have A&M in the Elite Eight and 11.6 percent have it in the Final Four. Just 0.5 percent have Georgia in the Final Four.

Potential Elite Eight matchups:
• Baylor vs. Georgia: 4.3 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 91.7 percent of those entries predicting Baylor wins
• Baylor vs. Texas A&M: 58.7 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 83.9 percent of those entries predicting Baylor wins
• Green Bay vs. Texas A&M: 1.8 percent of entries predicted the matchup, with 56.1 percent of those entries predicting Green Bay wins
• Green Bay vs. Georgia: 0.2 percent of entries predicted the matchup with 64.4 percent of those entries predicting Green Bay wins

Most popular championship game matchups

• 31.1 percent have UConn versus Stanford in the final, with 70 percent of those entries with UConn winning
• 35.3 percent have UConn versus Baylor in the finals, with 66.9 percent of those entries with UConn winning

Least popular

• Two entries had Georgetown facing off against Gonzaga in the final
• Five entries had Oklahoma facing off against Gonzaga in the final

It was as if Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot wanted to put a highlight reel of her entire career into one basketball game. A contest that would be her last on her home court at the McCarthey Athletic Center, but not her last in a Bulldogs uniform.

That's because No. 11 seed Gonzaga, for the second season in a row, will be going to the Sweet 16 -- thanks to a great point guard, a very strong team … and some good fortune with geography.

The Bulldogs beat No. 3 seed UCLA 89-75 Monday in Spokane, Wash., taking advantage of being at home to knock off the Pac-10's Bruins. The setup of predetermined sites for the first and second rounds of the NCAA women's tournament means that sometimes, a worse-seeded team gets a home-court advantage over a team with a better seed because it submitted a winning bid to host.

Would No. 11 Gonzaga have defeated sixth-seeded Iowa in the first round or UCLA in the second on a neutral court? Hard to say, but the Bulldogs did make the Sweet 16 away from home last year. Of course, then Gonzaga had a home-state advantage -- the subregional was played across the state in Seattle -- and defeated No. 2 seed Texas A&M in the 2010 second round.

But no one can argue that Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves has built a terrific program in Spokane, and Vandersloot has been the centerpiece. The senior guard was sensational Monday: 29 points, 17 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals. During the game, she scored the 2,000th point of her career. Are you watching, WNBA scouts?

And it's not too often that a player could score 30 points and be overshadowed by her teammate, but Gonzaga's Kayla Standish was. Not that she minded.

UCLA is a very good defensive team, but it didn't look so against the high-octane offense of Gonzaga, which shot 55.8 percent from the field.

Now the Bulldogs will have the support of the entire city with them -- including Gonzaga alum John Stockton, who was in attendance Monday appreciating the skills of a fellow point guard -- as they play in the upcoming regional at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

The Bulldogs will face either No. 2 seed Xavier -- the team they lost to last year in the Sweet 16 -- or seventh-seeded Louisville.

And the idea that the Bulldogs are underdogs? They sure aren't looking like it.

Zags upend second-seeded Aggies

March, 23, 2010
03/23/10
12:33
AM ET

Did you think you knew just how this women's NCAA tournament was going to turn out? Well, yes, UConn remains the big favorite. But a whole lot else has gone haywire on most people's brackets.

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Vivian Frieson
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonWhen Zags star Courtney Vandersloot fouled out with 1:23 to play, Vivian Frieson delivered, hitting the winner on a 12-footer and finishing with 23 points.

After a Sunday of upsets in which 10th-seeded Vermont, No. 12 Green Bay and 11 seeds Arkansas-Little Rock and San Diego State all won, Monday was another big night for a team outside of the "Big Six" conferences.

This time, it was No. 7 seed Gonzaga, a program that has been knocking on the door of the nation's elite for a while. Monday, the Bulldogs officially stopped just knocking and marched right into the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history with a thrilling 72-71 victory over No. 2 seed Texas A&M.

Furthermore, the Bulldogs did it with star point guard Courtney Vandersloot on the bench after fouling out with 1 minute, 23 seconds left. The winning basket came from Vivian Frieson, whose jumper with 21 seconds left gave her a game-high 23 points. She also had nine rebounds and six assists on the biggest night of the senior's Gonzaga career.

A school that has celebrated its men's program as "giant-slayers" in the past now has the women to laud for the same thing. It was a crushing defeat for Texas A&M, which had won the Big 12 tournament and came into the NCAA tournament considered a realistic challenge to top seed Stanford in the Sacramento Regional for a Final Four berth.

But the Aggies won't even make it to California's capital; they go home while the Bulldogs move on to face the winner of Tuesday's Xavier-Vanderbilt game.

It was a rough evening for the Big 12 as two of its three teams in action fell. No. 4 seed Oklahoma State lost 74-71 in overtime to No. 5 Georgia. No. 4 seed Baylor, though, did beat No. 5 Georgetown 49-33 and will meet Tennessee in the Sweet 16.

Earlier in the evening, two ACC teams had to scramble to avoid being upset.

Nobody but the most gung-ho (and slightly delusional) ACC fans would have proclaimed this as a very strong year for the league. Even ardent followers of the ACC understood that a combination of graduation losses, injuries and illness -- specifically with the league's top post player, North Carolina's Jessica Breland, who battled cancer over the summer -- had left the ACC below where it's been in some previous seasons.

That said, few were expecting the ACC might go down in flames before even the NCAA Sweet 16. Yet the league had some anxious moments Monday night -- after a very bad weekend in which North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia and NC State lost -- that just that might happen.

Duke, seeded No. 2 in the Memphis Regional, and Florida State, No. 3 in the Dayton Regional, were both in peril -- worse yet, it was on their home courts. But the Blue Devils and Seminoles, who finished 1-2 in the ACC this season, both pulled out victories and will head to the regional semifinals with a sigh of relief.

Duke pulled away for a 60-52 victory over seventh-seeded LSU in what was, as expected, a defensive battle. In the closing minutes, though, the Blue Devils got the upper hand with hustle plays -- led by Jasmine Thomas -- and avoided a second consecutive loss in the NCAA second round. Last year, playing on Michigan State's home court as a No. 1 seed, Duke was upset by the Spartans.

The Blue Devils made just 1 of 10 3-point attempts, and Thomas was the only Duke starter in double figures with her 15 points. Duke got a lift off the bench from Bridgette Mitchell, who had 12 points and six rebounds.

Duke forced 22 turnovers -- although the Blue Devils did have 19 of their own. LSU star Allison Hightower finished her career with a 19-point game as the Tigers became the first of the six SEC teams to lose in this NCAA tourney.

After Duke survived, Florida State did the same -- although the Seminoles had to go to overtime to do it against No. 6 seed St. John's, 66-65. The Red Storm were trying to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, and they came agonizingly close.

FSU senior post player Jacinta Monroe hit a tying layup with 17 seconds left, then St. John's freshman Eugeneia McPherson missed a shot at the buzzer and the teams went to overtime at 62-62.

All the Red Storm were able to get in the extra period was a free throw from Da'Shena Stevens and a layup from Joy McCorvey. The Seminoles didn't get much more -- baskets from Cierra Bravard and Monroe -- but that was enough to send Florida State to the Sweet 16. Monroe led FSU with 16 points, and Nadirah McKenith had 15 for St. John's.

Stevens missed a good look at game's end that could have won it. But instead, the Red Storm finished the season 25-7, intensely disappointed but with a lot to look forward to next season. Six of St. John's top eight players -- including this season's leading scorers Stevens and Shenneika Smith -- are returning.