Gonzaga women turn to tough defense for 11th consecutive win
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 and 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 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 Zags 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 conference) season, we lock down on defense,” Reader said.
(3) Stanford 100, Washington State 59: At Stanford, Calif. Cardinal broke their own Pac-10 record with their 49th-straight league win, riding the 19 points of Nnemkadi Ogwumike and the all-around game of Kayla Pedersen.
Pedersen had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. Stanford, (21-2, 12-0), which has won 57 straight home games, shot 63.4 percent.
The Cougars (7-17-, 5-7), now 0-52 against Stanford, were led by Jazmine Perkins’ 18 points.
Washington 60, California 49: Sarah Morton had 18 points and eight assists as the Huskies upended the Bears in Berkeley, Calif.
Kristi Kingma added 16 points and six assists for the Huskies (10-11, 5-7 Pac-10), who dealt the Golden Bears’ hopes of qualifying for the NCAA tournament a serious blow with the win.
Layshia Clarendon had 13 points and DeNesha Stallworth 12 for California (14-9, 6-6).
Utah State 70, Idaho 64: All five Idaho starters scored in double figures, but the Vandals (12-10, 5-5 WAC) were doomed by 28 turnovers as the Aggies (13-10, 7-3) scored the last six points of the game in Logan, Utah.
Idaho was led by senior Yinka Olorunnife’s 16 points and 11 rebounds and Derisa Taleni’s 11 points, 10 boards, seven assists, four steals and two blocks.