January 3, 1997 in Sports

Zags Win Thriller Mccullough’s Jumper Provides Difference

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Gonzaga Bulldogs used the new year to get rid of some old baggage Thursday afternoon.

On the strength of a 21-point performance by Lydia Ledgerwood and a clutch jump shot by Melissa McCullough with 28 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs pulled out a 57-55 women’s basketball victory over Idaho at Martin Centre - snapping their losing streak at nine games.

And while the difference between a 1-9 record and 2-9 may seem negligible, you can’t sell that notion to Gonzaga coach Kellee Barney.

“I couldn’t ask for better timing,” said Barney, whose team opens West Coast Conference play in one week. “Really, I’ve been proud of the way we’ve dealt with being 1-9. It’s hard to take, but they’ve never given up and always believed in what we’re trying to accomplish - and today they were rewarded.”

But once again, there was no reward for Idaho coach Julie Holt. Barney’s predecessor at GU has yet to win in three tries against her old school.

And this one may have been especially frustrating. The Vandals let a 47-41 lead get away in the last 5 minutes, and saw a tying basket just barely lose a race with the final buzzer.

“I think everybody on our team thought we were going to win the game, but you’ve got to perform that way, too,” said Holt, whose team dropped to 5-6. “We had too many unforced errors that let them back in it. We never got to the point of going in for the kill, which we should have when we got up six points.

“I don’t want to lose and I especially don’t want to lose to Gonzaga since I’ve been here. But I would rather it happen now and have us learn a lesson than to have it a week from now when we’re starting conference play.”

That lack of killer instinct betrayed Idaho early, too. GU wiped out a 9-2 deficit with a 15-3 run, aided by a flurry of Vandals turnovers - 10 of their 23 coming in the first 12 minutes. And after Kelli Johnson’s 3-pointer got Idaho even at 19, there was never more than a fourpoint difference either way - until free throws by Alli Nieman and Michelle Greenwood and a Johnson jumper put Idaho up six with 5:10 remaining.

Ledgerwood - who had eight of her career-high point total down the stretch - got GU restarted with a pair of free throws, but it was a steal by McCullough and a foul by UI’s Kathryn Gussett of Ledgerwood at midcourt that allowed GU to catch up.

The Zags held Idaho to just 26.9-percent shooting in the second half and got two big contributions off the bench from Chelsea Herman (11 points) and Kristin Deal (9 rebounds) - while Idaho’s reserves didn’t score.

Gonzaga 57, Idaho 55

Idaho (5-6) - Gussett 1-4 1-2 3, Skorpik 2-7 0-0 6, Greenwood 6-13 4-5 16, Johnson 5-10 0-1 11, Nieman 3-12 13-14 19, Newman 0-1 0-1 0, Ortner 0-0 0-0 0, McDaniel 0-1 0-0 0, Blakley 0-0 0-0 0, Stone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-48 18-23 55.

Gonzaga (2-9) - Ledgerwood 7-11 7-8 21, Andrews 2-8 0-0 4, Perno 3-8 3-4 9, McCullough 3-6 0-0 6, Jeffries 1-5 2-2 4, Waltz 0-0 0-0 0, Herman 4-9 2-2 11, Clark 0-1 0-0 0, Gere 0-0 0-0 0, Deal 1-4 0-1 2, Steward 0-1 0-0 0, Osberg 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-54 14-17 57.

Halftime score - UI 30, GU 29. 3-point goals - UI 3-7 (Skorpik 2-3, Johnson 1-4), GU 1-5 (Ledgerwood 0-1, Jeffries 0-1, Herman 1-3). Total fouls - UI 18, GU 22. Fouled out - Perno. Technical fouls - None. Rebounds - UI 35 (Nieman 6), GU 35 (Deal 9). Assists - UI 10 (Gussett 4), GU 12 (McCullough 3). A-639.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo


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