WCC women’s tournament preview: BYU vs. Santa Clara

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The Cougars’ bench cheers as BYU defeats Pepperdine in the quarterfinals in Las Vegas on Friday. (BYU Photo)

The No. 1 seed BYU women’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals to play No. 4 Santa Clara Monday, March 7 at 12 p.m. (PST) at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada after defeating Pepperdine on Friday. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and BYUradio.

This will be the first meeting between BYU and Santa Clara in the WCC tournament.

“I’m really excited to face them,” Junior Kalani Purcell said. “They’re more of a physical team and I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but I’m a very physical person on the court so I like the match-up a lot. I think we match-up really well.”

Regular season meetings: The Cougars swept the season series over the Broncos. The first match-up was at Santa Clara on Jan. 7 and the Cougars took home a 68-63 victory. The Broncos came to Provo Feb. 13 where they were defeated 70-63.

Momentum factor: BYU defeated Pepperdine 72-59 in the quarterfinals after coming off a disappointing loss to Gonzaga in their final regular-season game. This is the fifth straight season since joining the WCC the Cougars have advanced to the semifinals.

What a win means: With a victory over Santa Clara, BYU will play the winner of No. 6 San Francisco and No. 2 Saint Mary’s in the finals on Tuesday. This would be the Cougars’ third WCC tournament title after being the 2012 and 2015 champions.

Players to watch: WCC Player of the Year Lexi Eaton Rydalch is the Cougars’ leading scorer at 24.1 points per game. She is 24 points away from becoming the WCC all-time men’s and women’s all-time leading scorer. Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher adds 12.5 points to the Cougars’ offense. Kalani Purcell is the BYU’s leading rebounder, hauling in 12.5 boards per game and adding 11.5 points. She has been three assists shy of a triple-double in five games this season.

Lori Parkinson leads the Broncos in scoring with 11.3 points per game, while Marie Berthholdt averages 11.1 points. Morgan McGwire is the third Bronco averaging double-digits with 10.2 points. Bertholdt and Parkison were both named to the All-WCC First Team last week.

What Coach Judkins has to say: “These two players right next to me (Pulsipher, Purcell) are going to have to play very good. Kenzi is going to have to hit shots and Kalani is going to have to pass through that zone. Hopefully we can do what we did the last two times against them,” Judkins said.

 

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