LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team gave No. 20 Gonzaga all it could handle but came up short in the West Coast Conference semifinals in an 83-78 final. The Gaels led at halftime behind a blistering start, shooting 65.5 percent from the field. Gonzaga would overcome Jackie Nared's 26 points and SMC's 50 percent field-goal percentage for the game.
With the loss, Saint Mary's drops to 21-10, while Gonzaga improves to 26-4 and advances to the WCC Championship game. The Gaels will most likely get a WNIT bid and that announcement will come after the NCAA Tournament selection show. The WNIT field will be announced on the evening of March 12.
The Gonzaga duo of Kayla Standish (31 points) and Katelan Redmon (20 points) proved to be too much. Adding Haiden Palmer with 14 and Taelor Karr with 11 points made it tough for SMC to break through.
The Gaels did have their chances in the second half, and held a 66-63 lead after Danielle Mauldin scored with 11:58 on the clock. Gonzaga would go on a run after Carli Rosenthal fouled out early with 12:17 left in the game.
Gonzaga went ahead 77-70 at the 4:08 mark, but the Gaels would not go quietly. After a couple defensive stops, Alex Carbonel drove the lane and scored to pull SMC within 79-76 with 1:28 left.
SMC then forced a turnover, but could not get a potential tying shot off as the Gaels turned the ball over. Gonzaga scored to pull ahead 81-76 with 33 seconds left, which proved to be the final margin. The teams would exchange scores but the Gaels ran out of time in the 83-78 loss.
The first-half was a flat out track meet as both teams shot extremely efficient and combined for 96 first-half points. Gonzaga shot 57.6 percent while SMC shot 65.5 percent. That mark was the best half of field-goal percentage basketball under a Paul Thomas coached team. Saint Mary's shot 62.5 percent in a first-half during the 2009-10 season against CSU Bakersfield.
Saint Mary's led at halftime by a 49-47 margin, with each squad tallying only 12 rebounds as neither team miss fired.
The 26 points by Nared was two short of her career-high set during the final weekend of WCC action at San Diego.