Hot shooting from Makenzi Morrison and a steady hand from Lexi Eaton late propelled the BYU Cougars past first-place Gonzaga 61-55 in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals Monday afternoon, sending BYU to play for the conference title and NCAA auto-bid.
BYU trailed throughout and was down 12 early in the second half. A pair of threes from Morrison and Xojian Harry brought the Cougars within four midway through the second frame. After four consecutive points from Morgan Bailey, Morrison nailed a go-ahead three with 4:55 remaining for a 51-50 lead on this hand-off from Eaton:
Eaton shot 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 3:29 to keep the lead for the Cougars, while Micaelee Orton posted a huge pair of plays to put BYU up 57-52. Orton gave the Cougars the five-point lead with 1:14 left on a layup, then blocked Emma Stach 12 seconds later on this sequence:
Eaton's final free-throws of the series with 33 seconds left gave BYU a four-point lead and secured the win.
Morrison finished 4-of-6 from deep, leading BYU with 18 points. Eaton added 16 with 10-of-12 from the line and 2-of-3 three-point shooting, and Harry added three treys of her own for 13 points.
Bailey led the Cougars with nine rebounds and pitched in eight points before fouling out in the final minutes.
BYU improves to 22-9 and advances to the WCC tournament final to face the winner of 2-seed San Diego (24-5) and 6-seed San Francisco (18-12). The final tips Tuesday at 2 p.m. MT and will air on ESPNU.