LAS VEGAS — It all comes down to BYU’s women’s basketball team to bring home a West Coast Conference tournament title after the men lost to Gonzaga on Saturday night. The women’s team will face regular-season champion Gonzaga in the final today at 1 p.m. MT.
The championship game will be televised on ESPNU.
“We’re excited to be able to play for the championship,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “We as a team wanted to win a conference championship and have the opportunity to win the tournament championship. I think we’re where we need to be, playing against a very good team, Gonzaga, and we’re excited about that.”
Gonzaga has taken the title each of the last three years. BYU has proven its value, though, advancing to the title game in its first year in the WCC.
“Gonzaga is a great team, they execute well, they’re well coached,” said senior Haley Steed. “Both teams played really well at home this year and now we’re at a neutral site. We’re excited, we expect it to be a dogfight. It’s a really good matchup for both teams.”
In the regular season, BYU defeated Gonzaga in the Marriott Center by 30 points. But the Bulldogs fought back and beat the Cougars in The Kennel in Spokane, Wash., by 17 points.
“We’re excited; it should be a good game,” Judkins said. “We deserve to be in this tournament.”
The two teams are fairly evenly matched. Senior Kristen Riley is scoring 11.8 points per game, and snagging 7.9 rebounds. Gonzaga senior Katelan Redmon averages 16.7 points per game and grabs 6.2 rebounds.
“We need to stop Redmon,” Riley said. “She had 28 when we played them, and obviously she [Kayla Standish] went off yesterday so those two we really have to focus on from the get-go.”
Standish scored a career-high 31 points for Gonzaga in a semifinal win over St. Mary’s on Saturday.
Something the Cougars have that the Bulldogs don’t is true freshman Lexi Eaton. In the Cougars’ semifinal game, against San Diego, she scored a career-high 26 points to lead the team.
“Our team needs to come ready to play, and we know it,” Eaton said. “We need to come out and throw the first punch.”