ZAGS WIN: OK, I was scoreboard watching with the UConn game. Congrats to Stanford for pulling out the win at home. Glad I have three days to think about how I’m going to rank the teams now. But something says I still keep UConn at No. 1 and make Stanford No. 3. We’ll see. The time to ponder came from Gonzaga (11-4) actually deciding to show up on Thursday. Love a good game, but not when one team appears to be going through the motions. The Zags won 91-64 once they realized they were bigger and more experienced. GU outscored SU 51-22 after the break, forcing 16 turnovers and outrebounding the Redhawks 21-11. Bekkering scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half, getting challenged by coach Kelly Graves at the break. Vandersloot had 10 points, four steals, and three assists while Standish was a monster on the boards with eight in the second half. “I challenged our seniors,” Graves said of Vandersloot and Bekkering. “We have a saying that we play against ourselves. Our competition is our potential and we didn’t do that in the first half. I give them (SU) credit, they played really well. They played inspired.” Standish led everyone with 23 points and 12 boards while Kerfoot found her offensive game to finish with 19 points, but she also had 10 of her team’s 30 turnovers. Overall, the tournament was a success, drawing 1,026 fans for Day 2. Coaches were given monogrammed golf balls while the all-tournament team was presented with cool trophies accented with snowflakes. GU stars Vandersloot and Standish were named to the team along with LMU G Renahy Young. Notre Dame G Natalie Novosel rounded out the players with teammate Devereaux Peters winning MVP. SU (4-11) continues play on Saturday, hosting Navy. GU plays Southern Utah on Monday.
RUNNIN’ ZAGS: The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 20-4 run to return SU back to reality. It was fun while it lasted, though. Zags were more focused on defense and aggressive in their shot selection on offense.
BIG CHEER: The KeyArena crowd was happy to hear Stanford leads UConn 61-55 with a littler over four minutes to go. But most are focused on what’s happening here, especially the shocked Gonzaga fans.
STUNNER: Uh, Maples Pavilion isn’t the only spot for stunners this evening. Seattle U. has a 42-40 lead at the break, shooting 63.0 percent and playing aggressive defensively. In fact, it’s the best the Redhawks have played as a team this season. Of course SU’s spurt to take the lead happened while Vandersloot was on the bench. Brown simply worked Tatriana Lorenzo into a charge and picked her off for a fastbreak layin. The Zags had 14 turnovers in the opening half, which SU converted into 18 points. Standish leads the Zags with 13 points. Redmon has eight. Kerfoot, who popped three-pointers in Vandersloot’s face, has 13 points to lead her team. Ashley Ward and Butcher have eight apiece. GU is shooting 53.1 percent from the field.
SEE THAT?: Vandersloot has the play of the tournament — if only her teammate would have made the shot. But it all happened so fast as a long pass that appeared headed for a turnover was tipped by Vandersloot and then tapped low for a possible layin. Ultimately a three-pointer by freshman Jazmine Redmon put the Zags up 27-23.
HECK AILING: Heck entered off the bench, dealing with a back and other nagging injuries. She’s in the game now. SU is down 22-16 with 10:30 on the clock.
ZAGS UP: Gonzaga has taken a 18-14 lead with 11:50 remaining in the opening half. Both teams are shooting well and scraping for any rebounds. But Seattle U.’s seven turnovers have been turned into eight Gonzaga points.
EXHIBIT A: This is the way SU should start every game. The Redhawks have fire and Kerfoot is knocking down threes for an early 10-4 lead. Vandersloot is starting to take more control offensively to get the Zags going.
IRISH WIN: Notre Dame took control early and coasted to a 91-47 win against Loyola Marymount on Thursday. Four players finished in double figures, led by freshman Kayla McBride (20 points and six rebounds), who injured her knee in practice on Tuesday. F Devereaux Peters finished with 16 points and six boards. The Irish scored 54 points in the paint and 26 off 24 LMU turnovers. Notre Dame concludes its nonconference play with a home matchup against Southeast Missouri State on Jan. 2. The Lions begin West Coast Conference play against Saint Mary’s on Jan. 6.
BREAKING NEWS: OK, so the real game tonight is between No. 1 Connecticut and No. 9 Stanford on the Farm. And, although it’s early, the Cardinal leads the Huskies 20-9. Jeanette Pohlen shooting light’s out. You can tune in on ESPN2.
If the Storm is using Seattle University’s inaugural Holiday Hoops Classic as a barometer for how a WNBA All-Star game would do at KeyArena, the outlook isn’t good. The games are different with far more stars in the pro midsummer showcase, but you’d think basketball fans would show for anything good.
Especially given the state of some of the programs in this state.
But a countable crowd has shown to watch No. 16 Notre Dame play Loyola Marymount in the opener of Day 2 of the Classic. Nothing close to what shows for NCAA opening round games at Edmundson Pavilion in March.
Notre Dame is smothering LMU defensive to take a 39-19 lead with 1:20 remaining in the first half.
The nightcap will be Gonzaga (10-4) against SU (4-10), which should draw a better crowd. The Zags drew well for its 70-61 loss to Notre Dame on Wednesday. It’s the first time since Seattle defeated Atlanta in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals that a women’s basketball game has been held in the facility. That game drew 13,898 fans on Sept. 14.
While the crowds might not be impressive this week, both teams raved about the city and overall “tournament” experience. Notre Dame senior Becca Bruszewski caught a fish at Pike Place Market and only Irish coach Muffet McGraw skipped out on the trip up to the Space Needle observation deck. She’s afraid of heights, opting to hit downtown for some shopping on Tuesday.
LMU coach Lynn Flanagan and senior Melanie Ysaguirre went on a tangent during their postgame interview on Wednesday to boast about Seattle’s hospitality and beauty. It nearly made this native Michigander blush.
We even gave them a full day’s worth of sun on Thursday. If they only knew.
“This trip, being here in Seattle has been awesome,” Flanagan said. “The classiness of our team host, the arena – it’s a first-class event. Probably one of the best tournaments in my 29-years as a college coach. I just want to say that the city of Seattle can be very proud of Seattle University, it was very classy.”
Ysaquirre added: “This is my first time being in Seattle. It’s very fun being here, touring, the hospitality is great and on behalf of my teammates, I just want to thank Seattle.”
SU coach Joan Bonvicini worked with athletic director Bill Hogan to have the all-Catholic schools tournament. Next year No. 4 Xavier and St. Louis University are slated to play in a traditional tournament format with a determined winner.
But Bonvicini doesn’t just want to be a gracious host. After clawing back from a 18-2 deficit to LMU on Wednesday, she was insistent that her team would at least compete better in the upcoming Classics.
That starts Thursday against Gonzaga. Let’s get started with your starting lineups.
F Katelan Redmon
F Kelly Bowen
C Kayla Standish
G Courtney Vandersloot
G Janelle Bekkering
F Amani Butler
F Salena Dickerson
C Carley Butcher
G Elle Kerfoot
G Daidra Brown
Tonight’s officials are Lisa Jones, Jeneane Pence, and Jim Morrell.