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It was not expected to be easy for Kelly Graves' women's squad. Not after blowing away the WCC with a clean 14-0 sweep, then having to beat three teams for a third time.
The then-23rd ranked ladies started slow against their first foe, Portland, but eventually steamrolled the Pilots in the final 20 minutes for a blowout. Ashley Burke, Shannon Mathews and Anne Bailey led the charge.
With 48 hours rest, the women would again struggle to get it going against Pepperdine, but would eventually put the game on ice and win by a rout.
But this game was costly. WCC Player of the Year, point guard Shannon Mathews, would severely sprain her ankle and, for all intents and purposes, was out for the remainder of the tournament, which meant the most important game of the entire season.
The WCC Championship Game, the winner earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
As Rae Jewell, Rachel Kane and Katy Ridenour combined to play point guard by committee, the Zags could not find their rhythm against the hometown Broncos of Santa Clara. And SCU helped their cause with uncanny marksmanship from beyond the arc, tying a school record 14 treys against a GU team that thrived on tough defense all year.
It was the "perfect storm" and the upset was on. The 27-2 Zags would have just about everything go wrong while the 16-13 Broncos had some serious mojo working for them. Ashley Burke tried to answer with 27 points but it wouldn't be enough.
SCU claimed the auto bid with a big win while GU fell for only the third time all season, all on hostile courts. Gone is the nations longest winning streak and a sweep of all WCC teams, but there is reasonable, logical hope for an at-large berth for the Lady Zags which would ease a lot of pain.
It was announced shortly after all eight WCC school presidents met that Gonzaga would finally host (for the first time) a WCC Tournament. The year: 2006. The place: McCarthey Athletic Center. It promises to be a great tourney with large crowds for every game, men's and women's. Portland was awarded the 2007 WCC Tournament, to be held in Chiles Center.
The men simply took care of business this time around, routing San Diego in the semis by 16 points after leading by nearly 30 at one point. When Derek Raivio collected his second foul, Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes confidently took his place and buried three treys while executing like a veteran. Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista went off for 25 and 24 points, respectively, and Morrison added impressive assist and rebound numbers for possibly his best overall game of the year...
For 24 hours, anyway.
Morrison would once again light it up and take over against highly-regarded St. Mary's, scoring 30 points in every conceivable manner possible. Derek Raivio and Ronny Turiaf (15 rebounds) would hit high teens in scoring to complement Morrison. It was an incredibly display by the Zags in general and Adam in particular.
11th ranked GU went on to a 80-67 win over the Gaels, upping their record to 25-4, and earning the automatic bid to the Big Dance.
For more, visit ESPN's Article