LAS VEGAS — For the second consecutive year, Jill Barta had a big-time performance in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game.
And for the second consecutive year, the former Fairfield High School star was named the WCC tournament’s most outstanding player.
Barta scored 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting and 10-of-10 from the free throw line to help lead the top-seeded Gonzaga women’s basketball team to a 79-71 win over San Diego inside Oreans Arena on Tuesday. Barta scored a WCC-record 37 points in the 2017 championship game.
San Diego, which entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed, got off to a hot start, taking a 25-20 lead over the favored Bulldogs after the first quarter. The teams traded runs in the second quarter with Gonzaga ultimately taking a 45-40 lead into halftime. The Zags took their first double-digit lead of the game in the third quarter and held USD without a field goal over the final six minutes of the period. Barta scored back-to-back baskets to give Gonzaga a 61-50 advantage going to the fourth.
The Zags led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter and held off a late San Diego rally to clinch a place in the NCAA Tournament. Barta added a team-high eight rebounds to her stat line, and Zykera Rice added 17 points and Emma Stach had 14.
Maya Hood led San Diego with 23 points.
Gonzaga (27-5) will learn its opponent for the NCAA Tournament on March 12. The tournament begins March 23.
The Zags qualified for the 2017 tournament as a No. 11 seed but lost to sixth-seeded Oklahoma, 75-62, in the first round.