It was a night of some individual firsts for the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team.
Winning was not one of them, as those come quite often for the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs.
Kayla Standish was 10 of 13 from the field and finished with 20 points, redshirt sophomore Haiden Palmer added 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds – her first career double-double – and the Bulldogs put together a complete game in an 87-52 West Coast Conference victory over the San Francisco Dons Thursday night in front of 5,773 fans at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“If we’re up by 30 or down by 30 – that’s not really what matters to me,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. “I’m concerned with how well we play. I just always tell my team – don’t take your foot off the gas.”
They certainly didn’t tone down the power on Thursday night.
Standish started the game off quickly, hitting her first five shots – three jumpers and two layups – to give Gonzaga (15-2, 4-0 WCC) to quick 10-0 lead. San Francisco (3-15, 1-4) didn’t score its first points of the game until 15:46 on a layup by Rheina Ale and didn’t score again until 8:25.
Between that stretch the Bulldogs’ 19-0 run gave Gonzaga a 28-2 advantage and five different players scored, including freshman Sunny Grienacher, whose 3-point play put the finishing touches on the scoring run.
Gonzaga’s largest lead of the first half was 32 points (46-14) when Palmer gave Gonzaga the lead by knocking down a 3-pointer with two minutes remaining before halftime.
“That was great to see – so nice to see,” Graves said. “We did a good job early of getting (Kayla) the ball and then we did an excellent job of spreading it around. Honestly, I thought overall we did really well tonight. It was a very unselfish performance and the whole team played that way.”
The Bulldogs collectively had 27 assists and only eight turnovers, and took great care of the ball for the full 40 minutes. They also outrebounded the Dons 52-35 and forced 15 San Francisco turnovers.
“I think we played really well as a team,” Standish said. “That’s something we’ve been working on all year and these last few weeks we’ve really been clicking and just building on our team chemistry.
“I think it showed tonight that we’ve worked really hard to function as a team, and not just a lot of individuals playing a selfish game – 99 percent of the time we get the ball to the right person, and it’s never just one person doing all the work.”
In the second half, the Bulldogs quickly worked the lead over the Dons to 39 points at 67-28. Senior Katelan Redmon – a Lewis and Clark High School graduate who finished with 12 points – scored six of Gonzaga’s first 10 points, while Greinacher, who finished with a career-high 14 points, scored four during the 11-0 run that put the Zags lead at 39.
The Bulldogs lead didn’t fall below 30 points for the remainder of the game.
Gonzaga hosts Saint Mary’s (13-5, 4-1) on Saturday in a game that will most likely be more of a challenge than San Francisco provided.
“We’ve had a rivalry with them for a long time and I think it will be a challenging game,” Standish said. “I think if we do the little things, pass the ball well and get the ball to the right person – the person who is scoring – we will be fine.
“I think everyone is excited to play a good team that will challenge us.”