No one can doubt Pacific’s desire to make this a memorable West Coast Conference tournament.
Senior Desire Finnie came through for her squad once again, scoring a career-high 25 points as the seventh-seeded Tigers upset No. 2 Saint Mary’s 77-73 on Friday in the women’s basketball quarterfinals at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The expected finals matchup between Saint Mary’s and No. 1 Gonzaga won’t happen, but the Tigers still have work to do.
Pacific (15-16) will meet San Diego in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Monday. The winner advances to the WCC title game at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m just really proud of them,” Pacific head coach Bradley Davis said. “This game mirrored what this season has been for us. We just fought, and we found a way to get over the hump.”
After leading the Tigers with 21 points in their first round win against Portland on Thursday, Finnie was strong again coming off the bench. Pacific’s other senior, GeAnna Luaulu-Summers, had 20 points in 36 minutes.
“Seniors tend to do that,” Davis said. “They want to extend their season. They fought really hard, as did the rest of the team.”
After losing two close games to the Gaels (20-10) during the regular season, Finnie said the Tigers were just fed up of losing to them.
“We wanted it more and just got tired of not beating them,” Finnie said. “This was the third time, and we really just wanted to beat them.”
It took a while for Pacific to get the lead. It never trailed by more than nine points, but couldn’t get the lead for even a second in the first three quarters.
“We kept it close the whole way,” Davis said. “It was one of those games where you were wondering if you will have enough to close it out.”
Finally, Luaulu-Summers hit a free throw with 6:03 left in the game to give the Tigers their first lead, 59-58. They would not trail again.
“We just kept chipping away,” Luaulu-Summers said. “We’ve been the underdogs all season, and now it’s win or go home.”
Ameela Li had 14 points for Pacific. Sydney Raggio had 26 points and 15 rebounds for Saint Mary’s.
Davis said the Tigers will rest a bit today and watch the Pacific men play San Francisco at 3 p.m. today. And on Sunday the Tigers get back on the court.
Pacific beat San Diego (16-14) both times the school played this season.
“They play hard and they are aggressive,” Finnie said. “This will be a tough game.”