Pepperdine University and Wyoming advanced to tonight's final of the inaugural Converse Women's Basketball Tournament with last-minute victories Friday night in Titan Gym at Cal State Fullerton.
The Cowgirls (1-0) topped the host Titans (0-1), 73-72, when star forward Michelle Hoppes scored six points in the final minutes, including two free throws with 13 seconds left, giving Wyoming a 73-70 lead. Hoppes led all scorers with 27 points.
The Wyoming-Pepperdine game will be at 8 p.m. The Titans face Cal Poly Pomona in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
In the tournament's opening game, Pepperdine forward Cindy Sanders hit a 12-foot baseline jumper with seven seconds left and Stephanie Meneze converted a free throw with three seconds remaining to give the Waves (1-0) a 62-59 victory over the Broncos (2-1), who are the defending NCAA Division II champions.
The Waves, who were down, 59-55, with 1:52 remaining, were led by junior center Earnesta Grace, who finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore forward Kari Christensen, whose steal led to Saunders' crucial jumper, finished with 14 points and 7 assists. Sanders had 10 points.
The Broncos, who had built a seven-point lead early in the first half, were led by 5-foot-10 forward Debra Larsen, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Guard Michelle McCoy had 13 points and 6 assists but lost the ball several times on steals during the final minutes.
The second game also proved a cliff-hanger for the 218 persons attending the opening round of the tournament.
The Titans pulled to within one point when Amy Torczon hit a lay-in with seven seconds left.
Four seconds later, Wyoming guard Christine Fairless, who had 19 points and 12 assists, was fouled but missed the first free throw in a one-and-one situation. The Titans got the ball back but sophomore guard Sheryl Jones missed a desperation shot from midcourt at the buzzer.
Junior center Cathi Hall was the Titans' leading scorer with 17 points and reserve forward Bethel Lauder had 13. Torczon and Jones each had 12 points.