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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Area College Notebook

February 27, 2001|STEVE HENSON

Pepperdine finished a disappointing third in the West Coast Conference in women's basketball, but a strong showing in the conference tournament this week could land the Waves in the NCAA tournament.

Pepperdine (20-9) and WCC co-champions St. Mary's (22-5) and Santa Clara (20-6) had impressive nonconference victories on the road. Although the struggle to gain respect from the East Coast establishment is ongoing, several WCC coaches believe this might be a breakthrough season.

"I think there is a strong chance for three teams from our conference to get to the NCAAs," said Santa Clara's Julie Wilhoit, who was chosen WCC coach of the year. "I'll be saddened and surprised if we don't. We've all beaten strong teams on the road. It's time that nationally we get recognized and get three teams."

Loyola Marymount (19-8) tied with Pepperdine for third place in the WCC at 10-4, but the Waves won a coin flip and are seeded No. 3 in the conference tournament, which begins Thursday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego. Pepperdine opens against San Francisco (12-15) at noon.

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