You hate to consider any game a gimme.
In fact, you’ll never hear a coach – and rarely a player – even consider making such a statement.
If it’s one cliché any coach will co-sign, it’s “You can’t overlook anyone in this league.” After all, it wasn’t even two weeks ago when one of the West Coast Conference’s lower-end teams – San Francisco – shocked a Saint Mary’s squad that was in the hunt for a conference title.
But really, this one ended exactly the way it should have as Kayla Standish finished with 18 points and eight rebounds and the No. 20 Gonzaga Bulldogs used a balanced attack to take down Portland in a 77-56 WCC victory on Thursday night in front of 5,136 fans at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“We were just talking about that,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. “As coaches we’re always critical of a lot of things but the consensus in here on this one was that it was just a good basketball game for us.
“We had a lot of people contribute, and it’s tough to have it look pretty when you are using that many players and giving them significant minutes.”
The Bulldogs reached 20 wins for the sixth straight season.
Fourteen players checked in for the Bulldogs and 12 of them scored.
Ten Bulldogs (20-3, 9-1 WCC) reached double digits in minutes on the court, including Jazmine Redmon (19), Stephanie Golden (11), Keani Albanez (11), Danielle Walter (14) and Sunny Greinacher (13) off the bench.
Haiden Palmer contributed 10 points and two steals and Kelly Bowen had seven points. Taelor Karr had eight assists and starter Katelan Redmon, who averages 13.2 points per game, was held to four points – but did finish with six rebounds as the Bulldogs held a 53-33 edge on the boards.
“These kinds of games are important,” Graves said. “It’s been one of the issues as a coach – Danielle, Keani and Meghan (Winters) have not separated from each other yet. And those three are really playing for one or two players’ minutes, and there are three of them. So it comes down to what we need at the time. It’s a good thing and a bad thing, because they are all capable of playing more minutes.”
Portland’s Cassandra Brown scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Pilots (8-10, 1-9), who were without injured point guard ReZina TecleMariam – twin sister of former Gonzaga player Ariam TecleMariam, who played for Gonzaga from 2008-10. Natalie Day contributed 12 points for the Pilots.
“I’ll give it to ’em,” Graves said. “They didn’t quit on us and they had some girls put up some great numbers.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, and never trailed in the game. They led by 11 points midway through the first half, but needed a 10-0 run to take a 38-24 into the locker room at halftime.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 27 in the second half.
“There were a lot of smiling faces after the game because I think a lot of people contributed and that’s nice,” Graves said. “I think that’s really important for us right now.”
Gonzaga hosts San Diego on Saturday at 2 p.m. before traveling to take on No. 22 BYU next Thursday.
The Bulldogs have defeated the Pilots in 23 of the last 24 meetings between the teams. … Graves was an assistant under Portland coach Jim Sollars from 1993-97.
Around the region
Eastern Washington 84, Northern Arizona 58: Brianne Ryan scored 29 points and the Eagles hit 51.5 percent of their shots in routing the Lumberjacks in a Big Sky Conference game at Cheney.
Chene Cooper added 12 points and nine assists for the Eagles (14-9, 8-2), and Laura Hughes added 10 points and Melissa Williams seven rebounds.
The Eagles led the Lumberjacks (7-15, 2-8) 41-27 at the half.
USC 67, Washington State 62: The Cougars (10-12, 4-6 Pac-12) rallied to within a basket in the final minute after trailing by 17 points but Southern California (12-9, 6-4) secured the win in Los Angeles with a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining.
WSU was led by April Cook with 18 points and Jazmine Perkins 17 points and 10 rebounds.
UCLA 79, Washington 73 (OT): A layup with 2 seconds left by UCLA’s Rebekah Gardner sent the game into overtime and the Bruins (11-10, 6-4 Pac-12) went on to beat Huskies (11-9, 3-7).
Washington led by eight points with 1:23 remaining in regulation.