LAS VEGAS — Jill Townsend led a balanced attack with 14 points and 10 rebounds and No. 18 Gonzaga defeated Santa Clara 72-62 in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference women’s basketball tournament on Monday.

Cierra Walker had three three-pointers in the second half and scored 13 points for the top-seeded Zags (22-3), who will face second-seeded Brigham Young in the title game at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

BYU advanced with an 85-55 victory over San Francisco.

Jenn Wirth added 12 points and Kayleigh Truong scored 10 for Gonzaga.

Lindsey VanAllen led fourth-seeded Santa Clara (14-11) with 17 points and Merle Wiehl and Ashlyn Herlihy had 16 apiece. The Broncos lost the two meetings to the Zags in the regular season by 19 and 17 points and have lost 11 straight in the series.

Gonzaga had a season-high 21 turnovers but shot 61.5% in the second half and had a 39-23 rebounding advantage. Four different players had four assists.

“I think our team played a good game,” Zags coach Lisa Fortier said. “Santa Clara had us out of sorts a little in the first half, and I really like the way we responded after that. We were moving the ball well; we’re at our best when we share the ball and when we’re playing as a team …

“We just stuck to the plan and the task at hand, which was just the next play. Continuing to do that, over and over again, seemed to be a recipe for success for our team today.”


Gonzaga led 12-6 after a ragged first quarter that saw both teams commit seven turnovers and going 0 for 5 from three-point range.. The Broncos were 3 of 14 from the field in the quarter, closing 1 of 10.

The Zags were up one and had a 12-0 run in the second quarter before settling for a 29-22 lead at the break.

The game stayed close until a 13-3 surge helped Gonzaga take a 52-39 lead into the fourth quarter. The Broncos were down by six points with just under four minutes to play but couldn’t get closer.