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GU women blitz Portland

The Gonzaga women opened up defense of their WCC title - all five of them - much better than last year. The Bulldogs destroyed Portland 90-54 Saturday afternoon at McCarthey Athletic Center, the unedited game story is below.

Meanwhile, Eastern Washington had a huge win over Montana last night and we just learned Griz freshman Katie Baker, who had her third straight doubel-double, is injured and did not continue on the road trip for tonight’s game at Portland State. Washington State continues to stumble, falling at home to Arizona State this afternoon. Idaho had it’s league opener against Fresno State and the Eagles beat Montana State tonight, which let a big lead slip away at PSU last night. The Vikings edged Montana on Saturday.

Lot of big games nationally, including two of particular intest - Baylor loses and Texas A&M whips Texas. That’s four Big 12 teams square off and two more are meeting right now, unbeaten Nebraska and Iowa State. No. 7 North Carolina became the latest team to fail miserable against UConn.

By Dave Trimmer; (509) 927-2154

Revenge for last year was more of a by-product of the statement that the Gonzaga women’s basketball team wanted to make about this year.

The Bulldogs opened the West Coast Conference season before 3,208 fans at McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday afternoon with a 90-54 dismantling Portland, the team that shocked them on their home court in the league opener last year.

“We keep that in the back of our minds,” junior Courtney Vandersloot said of her 18-point, nine-rebound game. “I don’t know if it is revenge or not, we don’t really think of it that way, but we think we had something to prove and we wanted to set the tone for the WCC.”

Heather Bowman led the way with 23 points and Vivian Friesen and Katelan Redmon had 14 apiece.

“It’s how we wanted to come out,” Bowman said. “We wanted to come out strong and we had a little revenge to take out on them. We really don’t (say revenge) when we’re talking about it, it’s more just proving ourselves. It’s not about them, it’s about us defending our home court.”

The Bulldogs, who have won five straight league titles, won this with a dominating first half, doubling up the Pilots 42-21.

They got separation early with a 10-point burst in less than two minutes, courtesy of Vandersloot, who started it with a 3 and had assists on the other three baskets. They turned that into a 16-2 run with three consecutive put-back baskets.

Gonzaga didn’t slack off in the second, pushing the lead to 37.

The Zags (12-4, 1-0) limited the Pilots (11-5, 0-1) to 34.6 percent shooting, scored 35 points off of 29 turnovers and were plus-nine rebounding, with 17 on the offense end that helped produce a 52-12 difference in points in the paint.

“That’s where we did it tonight,” Graves said of his team’s defense. “They weren’t able to get in a rhythm and they’re a rhythm team. When they get in a rhythm they’re tough offensively. It’s a great way to start league.”

Laiken Dollente led Portland with 17 points but 14 came in the second half, when junior Tara Cronin, a Gonzaga Prep graduate who torched the Zags for career highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds last year, had all of her eight points.

“We take pride in our defense,” Vandersloot said. “We think we get our offense from our defense. That’s when we’re at our best.

“I think we played well. … We shared the ball well, we played good defense so it was a good all-around game.”

Veteran Portland coach Jim Sollars, who won his 500th game earlier this season, was impressed.

“They’re just a lot more mature,” he said. “They’re better, they’re deeper and they just play at lot more mature. Bottom line is they’re a better basketball team than we are.

“I don’t think we’re as bad as we showed today but we have to do some things differently on a day-to-day basis. We have to learn to practice hard, practice better. We’re young and we’re really dumb. They don’t understand.”

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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