San Diego Basketball

Bulls have always fallen victim to the craftiness of Spanish toreros.

Bulldogs, at least those of Gonzaga University fame, appear to have better fortunes.

Despite a fierce second half comeback, the Torero basketball women of the University of San Diego come up short in trying to get their first conference win of the 2007-08 season. The Gonzaga Bulldogs (12-6, 3-0 West Coast Conference) finish on top, 83-76 in the teams' first of two seasonal meetings.

Forward Heather Bowman led all Gonzaga scorers with 26 points in 37 minutes of play. She also amassed five rebounds

"We just had our offense flowing," says Bowman, the Spokane-raised sophomore. "I think our defense's intensity spurred our offense. Any conference win is big."

Six of Bowman's seven free throws added to her personal total, while she went 10-of-13 from the field of 'two-point country.'

"That's where I've been all year!" claims Bowman. "All of my college career, that's been my role."

Guard Courtney Vandersloot poured in 13 points while teammates Vivian Frieson and Jami Bjorklund drilled 12 each. Bjorklund also led Gonzaga in rebounds with six Thursday.

The game deals a small setback to USD (9-7, 0-2 WCC), but they remain over .500. The Toreros led the contest throughout much of the first half. A neck-and-neck contest though later tilted in Gonzaga's favor, as they took a 43-31 lead into the locker room at halftime. In the second half, the Bulldog lead grew as high as 22 before USD narrowed the gap to a two-possession game.

But they weren't quite able to seal the deal.

"Coming back from being 22 down and being within six...that's awesome," admits USD freshman forward Sam Child. "Every game is a learning opportunity. Next time we play them, we've got to be ready."

Child scored 14 while her fellow forward Kiva Herman doubled that for a single-game career high milestone.

"I would have been more proud if we'd have gotten a win," says Herman, whose personal record of 28 points were complemented with 8 rebounds, 5 defensively. "It just matters that we win the game."

Torero center Amber Sprague is also basking in the glow of new heights. Prior to tip-off, she was recognized for passing her own career 1,000-point mark in an earlier game on the road. USD Executive Director of Athletics Ky Snyder presented her with an award, much to the delight of the Torero faithful.

Sprague, who finished Thursday's affair with 9 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, relishes the honor, yet like Herman, had bigger wishes set on the contest's outcome.

"It's nice," says the San Diego native. "But it would also be nice if we had a better record and were winning more games. They just hit really big shots, and our defense...we had a little slump." Sprague's career point total after Thursday's game stands at 1,025.

The Toreros will get ready for their annual home game against the University of Portland Pilots on Saturday.

The Bulldogs meanwhile head up the coast to play the Dons of the University of San Francisco the same day. Gonzaga's first place lead in the West Coast Conference will be on the line as the Dons (11-6, 2-0 WCC) look to pull off an upset.

"We know it's a big one," says Bowman. "We have to be pumped for every game."

Donald S. Cochran

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