Arrow-right Camera

SportsLink

GU women win big

Gonzaga prepared for its West Coast Conference opener in 10 days with an 88-52 win over UC Santa Barbara in women's basketball action Wednesday night.

The extended link has the unedited game story plus some information on a big night for Spokane native Angie Bjorklund in No. 4 Tennessee's rout of Old Dominion.

By Dave Trimmer

davet@spokesman.com; (509) 927-2154

An unusual schedule gives the Gonzaga women’s basketball team 10 days off before opening West Coast Conference play against Portland.

Too bad.

The way the Zags destroyed UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night at McCarthey Athletic Center tonight may not be soon enough.

Before the end of the bench took over with more than 8 minutes to play the Bulldogs were almost perfect in delighting 2,511 fans with an 88-52 victory.

“(This showed) we can play at an elite level, all of us at the same time,” junior point guard Courtney Vandersloot said. “We have a tendency just a couple of players play good, more-so this year.”

Among the notable numbers: 36 points after turnovers, 29 assists on 37 baskets, 10 3-pointers, including eight in the first half when the Gauchos had eight total baskets and 50.7 percent shooting – even though the conclusion (2-of-10 shooting) wasn’t picturesque.

“We were pretty good tonight,” GU coach Kelly Graves said. “When we shoot the ball that well, I thought that was the key. We were making perimeter shots, that’s been our nemesis all season long. We put it together tonight.”

Vivian Friesen, who finished up with 16 points and nine rebounds, scored the first size points before UCSB (3-9) scored. Before they connected again it was 19-3 and the Zags (11-4) closed the half with a 13-0 for a 53-21 lead.

The starters hit the bench shortly after a 16-0 run made it 80-34 with 10:26 remaining.

Vandersloot had 17 points and 12 assists with just two turnovers plus the bulk of the defense that kept Emilie Johnson, UCSB’s leading scorer at 14.2, scoreless.Tiffany Shives also had 17, hitting six of nine shots, including five 3’s.

“I feel a little better shooting,” Shives said after matching her season high from the opening game. “I struggled a little bit and then it got in my head.”

Kayla Standish came off the bench for 11 points, four blocks and three assists and Heather Bowman had 10 points.

“We’re getting there,” Vandersloot said. “We still have that 10 day break that will help us get physically and mentally prepared for league. We need to sharpen some things up both defensively and offensively. It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster, it will give us a chance to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Chris Spencer scored 11 off the bench for UCSB but 6-foot-4 Wake Forest transfer Mekia Valentine had just six, less than half her average.

Although the Gauchos, who shot 31.8 percent and had 24 turnovers, will take a losing record into league play for the sixth straight season they have made 10 straight post-season appearances, with 11 NCAA trips in the last 13 years.

“The record is not indicative of that team,” Graves said. “We obviously took them out of what they wanted to do. They’re a good team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they win the Big West.”

UCSB beat the Zags, who were 8-1 at the time, at home last year 59-47 and 76-58 in its only previous appearance in Spokane exactly 10 yeas ago.

 ****

Tennessee whipped ODU 102-62 with Bjorklund scoring a game-high 19 points in just 20 minutes.

“Coach (Summitt) really emphasized getting in the gym after the Stanford game and everyone took it seriously," Bjorklund said. "Everyone has been getting in the gym and it really shows. Just getting an extra 200-300 shots before or after practice really helps. It helps mentally too. In your head, you think about how you’ve been in the gym and that builds confidence, both in each other and in your own shot. We’ve also been focusing on getting the ball inside, which helps open things up on the outside.”

Summitt said, “If there’s one player who has worked the hardest, it’s Angie Bjorklund.  It’s paying off not only for her but for our team as well.

“We had the players write out what they needed to do to get better.  Angie needs to be a better defender.  She needs to be more patient when we’re setting screens.  She’s very committed to getting better.”




You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.






Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.