The difference between the best women’s basketball team in the West Coast Conference and the team that sits in second place is, oh, just 69 points.
The 23rd-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs raced past Saint Mary’s 106-66 before 3,207 fans at McCarthey Athletic Center Thursday night to go with a 106-77 romp in Moraga, Calif., four weeks ago.
The Zags, the nation’s top-scoring team, broke 100 for the seventh time, ran their winning steak to 15 games – 16 against the Gaels and 29 in the WCC – with Saturday’s Senior Day game against San Diego the only obstacle between them and an unprecedented second perfect run.
Janelle Bekkering had 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting, Kayla Standish had 19 points and 13 rebounds for her ninth double-double and Katelan Redmon had 15 points as 12 players scored for the Bulldogs (25-4, 13-0 WCC).
But as sensational as that was, it was Courtney Vandersloot who continually brought the crowd of 3,207 to its feet.
“How’s this line: 22 points, 13 assists, no turnovers, six rebounds, six steals?” GU coach Kelly Graves asked. “Are you kidding me? That’s the second-place team. They have good athletes and longer athletes defending her. It’s not like she’s going against chopped liver. Words just can’t describe what she does.”
Seven of Vandersloot’s nine baskets were layups.
“It’s just kind of what happened,” the nation’s assist leader said after her 15th double-double. “It’s how they’re defending. They like to stop me. They’re picking me up three-quarter court. It’s tough to do that the way we spread out. I’m able to just break down one defender and make a layup.
It was the last layup that left Graves grasping for words.
“That was one of the moves of her career,” he said. “That dipsy-do. … Every game she seems to elevate a little bit more. I don’t have any more adjectives, we’ll just leave it at that. Courtney was just, you know. I don’t even know what to say. She has transcended our game.”
Gonzaga was dominant in every way, shooting 55 percent, with a plus-13 on the boards. GU turned 28 turnovers into 37 points, many of them layups, for a 28-2 margin in fast-break points and 62-22 for points in the paint.
“They’re a transition team like us, so that just makes the game faster. That helps us,” Bekkering said. “I think they’re better in transition offense than transition defense, so that helps us out.
“I’m just looking for my shot a lot more. A lot of my points tonight were in transition. Courtney can find us running down the court – she’s always been good at that.”
Jasmine Smith had 24 for the Gaels (17-11, 9-4), but 6-foot-4 Louella Tomlinson has held to 10 points and four rebounds, well less than her averages of 14.1 and 9.6.
Vandersloot, who reached 1,000 assists in Gonzaga’s last home game, now has 1,902 points with a shot at 2,000 if the season lasts long enough. She would be the first NCAA athlete with the 2,000-1,000 double.