When all else fails – and for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, pretty much everything did – play defense.
And the 21st-ranked Bulldogs did that quiet well, thank you.
On a night when shots wouldn’t fall, the team that averages 80.4 points a game took its defense to another level, smothering Loyola Marymount 73-40 before 2,816 fans mostly clad in pink Thursday night at McCarthey Athletic Center.
“Offensively, man, we just couldn’t buy a shot for a while,” GU senior guard Tiffany Shives said. “Games will happen like that so that’s why we can rely on our defense.”
The total for the Lions (11-14, 4-7 West Coast Conference) was the lowest for a GU opponent this season, thanks to 26 percent shooting, including 2 of 15 from 3-point range.
Plain and simple it was an ugly game, but the Bulldogs (22-4, 11-0), who average 85.7 in conference play, were never really threatened because of their defense. They held LMU scoreless for more than 10 minutes early in the first half, but that only produced a 23-6 lead and it was 25-14 at the half.
Meanwhile, the fourth-ranked offense in the country needed a late surge to avoid its lowest winning score (64 points) of the season. The Bulldogs ended up shooting 47 percent after a 32 percent first half, thanks to a 61 percent second half.
“Even great teams have times where you can’t hit a shot, can’t buy a bucket,” Shives said. “If we can rely on our defense like that we can go pretty far – and hopefully, we won’t shoot it like that very often.”
Four GU starters scored in double figures, led by Courtney Vandersloot with 21 to go with eight assists. Shives hit four 3-pointers en route to 14 points. Vivian Frieson had 12 and nine rebounds and Heather Bowman 10.
Offensive rebounding helped the Bulldogs. They had 19 in their plus-21 rebounding to get 22 second-chance points. They also turned 15 LMU turnovers into 21 points.
Loyola averages 66.9 points a game and had 77 in a 14-point loss to Gonzaga at home.
“I think we focused more on the help side,” Shives said. “Last time they drove on us a lot and it was like 1-on-1 where we were getting beat off the dribble. This time we were all in help-side position, so they didn’t see any driving lanes. That helped a lot, instead of being selfish we played a lot more as a team.”
The Bulldogs play their last home game of the season against Pepperdine at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Washington State 64, USC 52: Freshman KiKi Moore had 19 points and nine rebounds as the Cougars (7-18, 2-12) broke an 18-game losing streak to the Trojans (13-11, 7-6) with a 64-52 victory in Pac-10 play in Los Angeles.
Leading by three with 5 minutes remaining, the Cougars went on an 11-2 scoring run to close the game, earning the win for the first time in Los Angeles since 1999. April Cook added 18 points for the Cougars.
UCLA 73, Washington 55: Markel Walker scored 19 points to lead the way for the Bruins(17-7, 10-3 Pac-10) and the Huskies (9-15, 4-10) could not sustain a 32-31 halftime lead, falling 73-55 in Los Angeles. Kristi Kingma led the Huskies with 10 points, while Sami Whitcomb added nine points and six assists.
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