Few people expected Portland to give Gonzaga a big scare in the Bulldogs' final West Coast Conference game of the season on Thursday night. But Gonzaga needed some key free throws and a crucial steal in the final seconds to hold off the Pilots and take a 13-game winning streak into next week's WCC tournament. Read story
First came the admissions that Gonzaga didn't play its best game of the season.
“I don't think we had our 'A' game, but I usually give credit to the other team more than us,” Graves said.
“I don't think we started well, but I don't think it was because of our celebration,” Karr said. “We toned that down this year.”
“Tonight it didn't seem like we had a flow,” Cheslek said. “We couldn't quite get anything going.”
Then came the opinions that the bottom line was winning the game.
“We won tonight and that's all that matters,” Graves said. “Now we'll worry about winning (the next game) down there (Las Vegas) on Saturday. This is a good win and nine in a row (WCC titles) … that's something.”
“When it counted, when it mattered most in the last two to three minutes, we made the plays,” Karr said. … “It's a good thing to have these tough ones just to keep us on our toes.”
Graves and Portland coach Jim Sollars are good friends. Graves had high praise for his friend when they met after the game.
“They were being physical enough to push us out of our offense and make us uncomfortable,” Karr said.
Cheslek, who battled foul trouble, said she'll have to learn what the officials are going to allow in games. She was still beaming about her key blocked shot late in the game, right after she returned to the game with four fouls.
“That was great, especially with it being close there at the end,” she said. “It brought the crowd back into it and it brought the team together.”
Portland had the game's top two scorers, both sophomore guards. Jasmine Wooton had 11 of her 16 points in the second half and Kari Luttinen added 12 points. Wooton shot 6 of 9 from the floor.
Portland's Cassandra (Cassie) Thompson, who played high school ball at Timberlake of Spirit Lake, had six points and three rebounds off the bench.
Gonzaga's scoring was balanced: Karr and Cheslek with 10; Palmer with nine; Redmon with eight; and Keani Albanez with seven. Redmon had all of her points in the final 10:50.
The 3-pointers wouldn't fall for Winters, who had family members in attendance from Colorado for her Senior Day honors. She was 0 for 3 after entering 23 for 56 for the season.
Karr had family members from Kansas in attendance. She and Winters gave emotional speeches after the game, before the Bulldogs cut down the net for the WCC title they clinched last week on the road.