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Hinojosa Blocks Out Pain, Lifts the Waves

College Basketball | WEST COAST WOMEN

March 02, 2002|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — Nothing was easy for Pepperdine in its West Coast Conference women's tournament semifinal Friday night, least of all for guard Damaris Hinojosa.

The 5-foot-10 junior once again battled pain, the result of playing this season with three bulging disks in her back, but she made big plays down the stretch to carry the Waves to an 82-77 victory over San Francisco before 1,207 at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Hinojosa, who has put off having surgery until after the season, scored six of her team's last eight points on her way to a game-high 22 as Pepperdine advanced to the tournament final for the third time in four years. The top-seeded Waves (22-7) will play second-seeded Santa Clara (21-8) at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for the WCC's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

"It was a real gutsy performance," said Pepperdine Coach Mark Trakh. "She shouldn't even be playing with the pain she has."

Hinojosa's running bank shot gave the Waves the lead for good, 78-77, with 1:04 to play, and her rebound led to Shandrika Lee's two free throws for an 80-77 lead with 23.5 seconds left.

Fourth-seeded San Francisco (18-11) had a chance to tie, but Lindsey Huff's three-point attempt from the top of the lane sailed out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left.

In the other semifinal:

Santa Clara 87, St. Mary's 84--Guard Caroline Gruening scored 34 points, including eight three-pointers, to lead the Broncos. St. Mary's is 16-12.

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