BYU women’s basketball to face San Francisco for WCC championship

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Kalani Purcell jumps during tip off over San Francisco in the Marriott Center in February. The Cougars will play the Dons in the championship game for the second year in a row. (Ari Davis)

The No. 1 BYU Cougars will face the No. 6 San Francisco Dons in the WCC finals for the second year in a row. Tip off will be March 8 at 1 p.m. (PST) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be broadcast on ESPNU.

“I’m really excited. We love the championship game and that’s what we work for all season,” Lexi Eaton Rydalch said. “We’re going to leave it all on the court.”

Last year’s tournament: Fifth-seed BYU defeated sixth-seed San Francisco 76-65 to win the 2015 WCC championship. The Cougars became the lowest seed to win the title. Rydalch was named the 2015 WCC Tournament MVP.

Regular season meetings: The Cougars swept the regular-season series over the Dons. BYU beat San Francisco 66-57 Jan. 9 on the road and the Cougars took home another victory Feb. 11 with a 65-62 in Provo.

Momentum factor: BYU defeated Santa Clara 87-67 to advance to the finals. This is the fourth time in five years the Cougars have made it to the championship game. The Dons are seeking revenge from last year’s championship loss to BYU. They haven’t won a tournament since 1997.

What a win means: With a victory over San Francisco, the Cougars will take home their second-straight WCC title and be one step closer to the NCAA tournament.

Players to watch: Lexi Eaton Rydalch is one point away from passing Hank Gathers of LMU for first place in all-time scoring in WCC history. She was one of five players who scored double-digits in the Cougars’ semifinal victory over Santa Clara. Starters Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher, Kylie Maeda and Kalani Purcell also contribute double-digit points to BYU’s offensive threat.

Senior Taylor Proctor averages 18.2 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Dons. Senior Zhane Dikes and junior Rachel Howard contribute 15.1 points and 13.9 points respectively.

What San Francisco head coach Jennifer Azzi has to say: “Obviously BYU is an incredible team so we’re going to have to switch our focus very quickly. They’ve got one of the best players in the country in Lexi and they are just a tough all-around team. They are very well balanced. Their supporting cast knows their roles. They are just a very, very tough opponent.”

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