The high-octane Gonzaga women’s basketball team took the economy model out for a spin on Thursday night.
Without the nation’s top offense hitting on all cylinders until a game-ending 23-2 blitz, the Bulldogs put up a road block to throttle Loyola-Marymount 82-42 before 2,837 fans at McCarthey Athletic Center.
LMU averages 62.3 points a game and Gonzaga allows 61.8.
“Stellar tonight,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said of the defense, “especially that first 12, 15 minutes of the game was terrific.”
Despite the slow start, the Zags (21-4, 9-0) shifted to overdrive and almost reached their average of 85.4 on their way to their 11th straight win, 25th straight in the West Coast Conference.
“That zone slowed us down a little bit,” Graves said, although the Bulldogs ended up shooting 51.4 percent, hitting 7 of 15 3-pointers. “We had some good looks but we didn’t finish them all. They’re a physical basketball team. Sometimes when we struggle we don’t play as physical as we should.”
Gonzaga eliminated the suspense early, putting together a not-as-smooth-as-usual 16-0 run while holding LMU (10-14, 4-6) scoreless for 7:14 for a 24-4 lead 14 minutes into the game.
But the Lions scored seven straight and the Zags, who led 35-19 at the half, didn’t get the margin back up to 20 until Courtney Vandersloot’s 3-pointer made it 50-29 with 13:32 to play.
Vandersloot had her 12th double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 assists, leaving the national leader in assists three shy of becoming the fourth player in NCAA history with 1,000. She also had five rebounds, one of five with at least five, and four steals.
Kayla Standish added 20 points and Shannon Reader a career-high 10 off the bench.
“I just had a lot of confidence, especially after I stepped up and make the first shot,” said Reader, a 6-foot-2 junior from Lake Oswego, Ore. “I kind of fell into the groove of things and once you’re in that groove, it just feels good.”
Renahy Young led LMU with 15 points, but the Lions shot just 31 percent, including 2 of 23 from 3-point range. LMU, which lost to Gonzaga 65-59 with a healthier roster at home, also had 20 turnovers and was pounded on the boards 46-29.
“The second half (of the league) season we lock down on defense,” Reader said.