Haylee Andrews floater with three seconds left was the biggest shot of the young freshman’s career. Her shot over the Gonzaga defense gave the Pilots a 70-69 upset over the Gonzaga Bulldogs, putting the Pilots in the championship and two WCC teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The Zags couldn’t miss in the first quarter and led 29-14 after 10 minutes. At the pace, it really seemed like that would be the end of the game. Portland had plenty other to say. The Pilots owned the next 20+ minutes, overcoming a 20 point deficit to take a lead into the fourth quarter.
Much of that was coming off of gutty performances. Despite having the size disadvantage down low, the Pilots attacked the offensive glass like nothing else, generating second-chance points. On the flip side, the Zags continued to make turnover after turnover, many of them uncharacteristic of a team that has played so sharply throughout the year.
Gonzaga has zero turnovers in the first seven minutes. They finished the game with 13. Jenn Wirth, who was stellar in the first half, didn’t shoot her first field goal of the second half until their were seven minutes left in the game. Wirth finished with a Gonzaga-high 21 points.
The combination allowed the big scoring three of Haylee Andrews, Kate Anderson, and Alex Fowler, who scored 56 of the total 70 points.
Gonzaga wouldn’t be done quite like that, however. The Zags went on a late 8-0 run to reclaim the lead, 65-53, with three minutes left, punctuated by Kayleigh Truong icing three free throws like a veteran. They did all of this without Jill Townsend, who picked up her fifth foul with nearly five minutes left.
Andrews sneaked around to re-tie the game, and a free throw and bizarre turnover/fast break sequence later, the Zags held a 67-66 lead with 1:04 to go. The next 30 seconds were bizarre. Each team pounded it out down low, the referees ignoring multiple fouls on all sides, before finally calling Jenn Wirth with a foul as she dove for a loose ball.
Fowler iced two free throws with 25.2 seconds left to reclaim the lead, 68-67. Jessie Loera drove around, kicked it to Wirth, whose point blank lay-up just rolled off the rim. Portland grabbed the rebound but the Zags forced the tie-up, giving the Zags the ball with 12.3 seconds left. The Zags went right back to Wirth and she attacked straight at Fowler, giving the Zags a 69-68 lead with 8.6 seconds left.
It wasn’t enough, however. A time out allowed the Pilots to bring the ball up court, and Andrews, one of the brightest stars of the WCC, hit the game winner to send the Zags home.
With Gonzaga losing, it means that two WCC teams will make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The question now surrounding Gonzaga is whether or not the team will still receive a high enough seed to host in Spokane.