BYU women’s basketball to take on top-seeded Gonzaga for a spot in the finals

Morgan Bailey shoots the ball in BYU's 65-64 win over Saint Mary's in the WCC Tournament first round. (Mark A. Philbrick/BYU)
Morgan Bailey shoots the ball in BYU’s 65-64 win over Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament quarterfinals. (Mark A. Philbrick/BYU)

LAS VEGAS — The BYU women’s basketball team has the chance to avenge a pair of regular-season losses when it plays top-seed Gonzaga on Monday in the WCC Tournament semifinals.

BYU came into the tournament as the five seed after posting a 20-9 in regular season record — its sixth-straight season with 20 or more wins.

Star guard Lexi Eaton leads the team in scoring with 20.5 ppg, also best in the WCC.

Forward Morgan Bailey is averaging 18 points with 10.7 rebounds per game. She is the WCC 2014–15 Player of the Year, finishing conference play first in field goal percentage (51.7 percent), first in defensive rebounds (9.1) and second in rebounding (10.9).

Gonzaga has won the last two WCC tournaments and claimed 11-straight WCC regular-season titles, which includes three undefeated seasons in conference play. It has the sixth best free-throw percentage in the country, at 77.1 percent. The Bulldogs are first in the conference offensively, shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from the free-throw line. Guard Keani Albanez has the second-best free-throw percentage (87.1 percent), and guard Elle Tinkle is the second-best shooter in the conference with a 50.6 field goal percentage.

BYU beat the Saint Mary’s Gaels 65-64 in the first round of the tournament on March 5, advancing them to the semifinals. They shot a 40.4 percent from the field, 22.7 percent from the three-point line and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line. Eaton, who led all scorers with 30 points, took the game-winning shot with fewer than two seconds left in the game. She shot 11-16 from the field and a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line.

Gonzaga beat Loyola Marymount 70-50 on March 6 to advance to the next round, shooting 46.7 percent from the field, 25 percent from the three-point line and 71.4 percent from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs led for all but four minutes of the game, losing the lead just twice and scoring 26 points off of turnovers.

The last time the Cougars met Gonzaga, they suffered a 73-66 loss at home. Makenzi Morrison led BYU with 20 points, and Morgan Bailey had 17 points with nine rebounds. The Bulldogs shot 53.7 percent and forced BYU into 18 turnovers.

The Cougars will face Gonzaga Monday at 12 p.m (PDT) for a chance to advance to the tournament finals to play the winner of the San Diego and San Francisco game.

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