Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dramatic Finish to Seattle Subregional

If you weren't at Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion last night, you missed out on some terrific basketball. Gonzaga and Pittsburgh went back and forth all night long before the Panthers overcame a pro-Zags crowd and made just enough plays down the stretch to steal the win.

It looked like Gonzaga might pull the upset when Pitt turned the ball over while leading by one with just under 30 seconds to play, but Janelle Bekkering traveled and a three attempt that would have tied the game in the closing seconds missed.

Pitt star Shavonte Zellous, a sure first-round pick in next month's WNBA Draft, showed why she is considered a streaky but dangerous scorer. Using both man and zone, Gonzaga did an excellent job of keeping Zellous on the perimeter and contesting her shots. Zellous was 1-of-6 in the first half and made six of 21 shots for the game, but she was able to get to the free-throw line to score a game-high 24 points. It was Zellous who had a key three-pointer to tie the game and a transition score in the late stages. She has a WNBA body with athleticism to match, including an impressive vertical.

While the loss was heartbreaking for the Zags because of missed opportunities and turnovers down the stretch, I came away from the weekend highly impressed with Kelly Graves' squad. Before wearing down in the final minutes, Courtney Vandersloot more than held her own against elite competition, coming up with 18 points, seven assists and a career-high five steals. Heather Bowman was obviously bothered by Pitt's combination of length and quickness, but ultimately found a way to contribute. Of the Gonzaga players who saw action, only defensive specialist Jami Schaefer graduates, while the Zags will add Katelan Redmon, a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team pick at UW in 2007-08 before transferring. Something tells me we haven't heard the last of the Gonzaga women in the month of March.

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