No. 16 Gonzaga to face Portland in WCC Tournament championship

The Zags took down BYU 79-64, while the Pilots narrowly defeated Pacific 75-72 in the WCC Tournament semifinals on Monday. 

LAS VEGAS — It’s been an upset-filled West Coast Conference Tournament, but that didn’t prevent the top two seeded teams from reaching the championship game.

The stage is set for No. 1 seed Gonzaga (28-3, 18-1 WCC) to battle No. 2 seed Portland (22-8, 15-3) at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. 

After both teams received a triple-bye to the semifinals, the Zags took down BYU 79-64, while the Pilots narrowly defeated Pacific 75-72 on Monday. The winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

GU forward Yvonne Ejim registered 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists against the Cougars. She was one of three Zags in double digits, as guards Brynna Maxwell and Kaylynne Truong finished with 18 and 13 points, respectively. 

“She is all over the place,” said GU head coach Lisa Fortier on Ejim. “I think she actually doesn’t have a lot of holes in her game. She can score with the best of them,... she’s a really good defender and she’s about as strong as a player has ever been.”

Portland was led to the title game by forward Alex Fowler, who had 29 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists to help her team avoid an upset to the Tigers. 

The Pilots trailed Pacific by a point with under four minutes to play, before Fowler sunk a pair of free throws and nailed a 3-pointer to give Portland its final lead of the game.

“Alex has been phenomenal all year long,” said Portland head coach Michael Meek. “She had a great game tonight but she’s had so many games she’s been doubled and tripled. She’s so selfless — she doesn’t want to be a scorer, she wants to be a great teammate.”

GU defeated the Pilots twice in the regular season: 73-66 in Portland on Jan. 14, and 63-53 in Spokane on Feb. 11.

There were 20 lead changes in the teams’ most recent meeting, but a 27-point third quarter from the Zags helped them ahead and eventually secure the victory. 

If GU wins on Tuesday, it will mark the program’s third straight WCC Tournament title. Portland was last crowned conference champion in 2020.

Henry Krueger is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @henrykrveger.

Sports Editor

Henry Krueger is a sophomore from Sacramento, California, and is in his second semester as a sports editor after entering the job in the spring of 2022. He is currently studying journalism and broadcast.