Emma Stach and Jill Barta played key roles for the Zags in a 65-53 semifinal victory over San Francisco. Top-seeded Gonzaga faces San Diego in Tuesday’s WCC tournament final.
LAS VEGAS – Emma Stach isn’t the type to hand off a tough defensive assignment to the next-closest teammate, so even before Gonzaga took the court for Monday’s West Coast Conference tournament semifinal against San Francisco, it was a foregone conclusion the senior guard had dibs on Dons standout Anna Seilund.
Stach has spent four years examining the habits and tendencies of the WCC’s top scorers, so by now she feels like she has constructed a full study guide for Seilund, who came to USF from Denmark the same year Stach arrived at Gonzaga from Buchholz, Germany.
“I’ve always defended against her and I know her strengths,” Stach said.
Her studies haven’t gone to waste.
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Seilund, an All-WCC first-teamer coming off a 28-point outing in the quarterfinals against Loyola Marymount, was held to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting by Gonzaga in a 65-53 Zags victory.
Gonzaga (26-5) will face San Diego (17-14) in the title game at 1 p.m. Tuesday. San Diego advanced with a 66-56 victory over Pacific.
The top-seeded Zags had a few scary moments against fifth-seeded San Francisco (16-15), but Jill Barta led a second-half charge and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
A goal of Stach and teammates was to hold Seilund in check from the three-point line. Mission accomplished. Seilund attempted six three-pointers, converting once.
“We really wanted to limit her from the three-point line,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “I had mentioned this Friday (against Pepperdine), that we didn’t do a good job in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t necessarily Emma, but our team in general. We were letting them shoot too many threes. (Emma) did a great job on her.”
Of Seilund, Stach said, “She’s a really tough player to guard. She can hit a three, she has really deep range, can go either side on you, has a good pull-up jumper. But that’s the challenge I love, playing against the best player, and it was great that I could limit her.”
San Francisco coach Molly Goodenbour said the Zags did a good job of taking away Seilund’s best assets.
“I think Anna Seilund is a player that, if she really gets in the flow and the tempo and she makes her first shot, gets to feel good about herself, she can have a 30-point night,” Goodenbour said. “She can also go the other way sometimes if she doesn’t make that first shot, and other teams take away things that are her strengths.”
• Azura Stevens scored 21 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the top-ranked Connecticut women to a 75-21 rout of Cincinnati in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Uncasville, Conn.
UConn (31-0), which is 100-0 against AAC opponents, faces South Florida in Tuesday’s final.
• Kalani Brown, a 6-foot-7 center, scored 20 points to help No. 2 Baylor beat No. 8 Texas 77-69 in the Big 12 women’s tournament final in Oklahoma City.
• Veteran play-by-play announcer Verne Lundquist, 77, will not be calling men’s NCAA tournament games this year. Lundquist had back surgery last fall and decided to step away from doing this year’s tournament, a spokeswoman said.