Women’s basketball returned to KeyArena on Wednesday with the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic, a four-team tournament hosted by Seattle University that continues tonight.
The marquee matchup on the first day was supposed to be between point guards Courtney Vandersloot of Gonzaga and Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame. Both floor generals played well, but they were overshadowed by Fighting Irish wing Natalie Novosel, who scored a career-high 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Despite Novosel’s production, the Zags still led a back-and-forth game 55-54 with 8:20 left to play before going cold. Gonzaga would manage just six points the rest of the way as Notre Dame opened up a lead. The return to the game of post Devereaux Peters, who missed most of the second half with four fouls, swung the game.
Playing in front of Tulsa Shock Head Coach Nolan Richardson – who drafted Bulldogs forward Vivian Frieson in the third round of the 2010 WNBA Draft – Vandersloot had 10 points and seven assists, though she shot just 4-of-14 from the field. Diggins, a talented sophomore who was everywhere on the court, scored 19 points, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and handed out five assists, though she also committed eight turnovers.
In the nightcap, the Loyola Marymount Lions built an early 18-4 lead over the hosts, who could never climb all the way back in the game despite playing even thereafter. Seattle U got 18 points from Federal Way native Salena Dickerson. But Renahy Young led Loyola Marymount with 22 points and a pair of Lions (Melany Ysaguirre, with 12; and Camille Buckley, with 10) grabbed double-figure rebounds as LMU dominated the glass by a 53-30 margin.
Seattle U and Gonzaga will get a chance to end the tournament with a win tonight, when they will face each other at 7 p.m. in the conclusion of the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic. Before that, Notre Dame takes on Loyola Marymount at 4:30 p.m.