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BYU Women Sneak Past Pepperdine; Advance To WCC Title Game

BYU Cougars guard Shaylee Gonzales (2) drives Pepperdine Waves center Megan House (5) as BYU and Pepperdine play in WCC tournament action at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After a slow first half, the BYU Cougars surged in the second half to pick up a 67-63 win over Pepperdine to advance to the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship Game.

BYU was led by Paisley Johnson with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. She scored 12 points in the second half and was a big reason for the comeback.

Shaylee Gonzales poured in 17 points and 8 rebounds to help the Cougars.

For Pepperdine, Yas Robinson-Bacote led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Malia Bambrick chipped in 17 points.

The Cougars trailed by six points at the half and started chipping away at the lead by outscoring the Wave 18-14 in the third quarter and 18-11 in the final period.

Pepperdine’s largest lead of the game was 13 points with 5:44 left in the third quarter.

The difference in the first half was Pepperdine’s 18 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second chance points. Despite the Wave out-rebounding the Cougars 51-29 and 25-8 on the offensive boards, BYU was able to pull out the win.

The Cougars played a very clean game, committing just three turnovers and their defense held Pepperdine to 34 percent shooting from the field.

With 1:34 left in the game, BYU had a two point lead. Johnson put the Cougars up by four, tying their biggest lead of the game. They made free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Pepperdine didn’t make a field goal over the last five minutes. The last two minutes, the Wave didn’t score at all.

BYU will advance to the WCC title game against No. 1-seed Gonzaga on Tuesday at 2 p.m. on ESPNU. The Cougars beat the Bulldogs twice during the regular season. Gonzaga is 28-3 on the season and 16-2 in conference play.