Head women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves unveiled his 2012-13 Gonzaga Bulldogs Saturday afternoon in front of 5,212 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. And the ensuing 90-48 exhibition victory over the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers could not have gone any smoother.
Needing to replace his top two scorers from last season, Graves started a trio of guards around two bigs in an attempt to control the tempo.
“We’ve always played fast, that’s what we like to do.” the six-time WCC coach of the year said.
Jumping in passing lanes and harassing ballhandlers, the trident of guards – featuring senior Taelor Karr, sophomore Jazmine Redmon, and top returning scorer, junior Haiden Palmer – led Gonzaga into forcing 27 turnovers.
Eastern Oregon (3-0 entering the game), which rallied its way to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II tournament last season, was no match for Gonzaga’s speed and size.
After the two forwards, sophomore Sunny Greinacher and junior Stephanie Golden, used their height advantages to propel the Bulldogs out to an early lead, the GU’s perimeter game got going.
A strong drive and finish by Palmer, resulting in a three-point play, sparked a 20-4 run. The Bulldogs’ 5 minutes of domination were capped by a steal and score by versatile Elle Tinkle, securing a 31-11 lead.
Tinkle, a freshman from Missoula, highlighted a solid showing from the new class.
“I’m pleased with our freshman class, this is as talented as a group as I’ve think we’ve ever had,” Graves said.
Shelby Cheslek (Pullman), with a team-high 12 rebounds, and Shaniqua Nilles (West Valley High), both coming off redshirt years last year, proved solid reserves in the post.
After rushing out to the early 20-point lead, Gonzaga cruised into halftime comfortably ahead 55-29. Palmer had 11 of her game-high 16 before the break.
“I love the point guards we got,” Palmer said. … Coming off swings (passes from the point to the wing) with them is lovely.”
Mead High grad Redmon led the team in assists with six, and last year’s national assist-to-turnover leader (2.67) Karr drew in the defense with her willingness to shoot from behind the arc, hitting twice in the first half.
The inside play of Greinacher, a former U18 German International, was encouraging. She finished with 15 points against the Mountaineers’ outsized front court.
Gonzaga finished the night with 20 points off turnovers, most of those points coming in transition.
Washington State 93, Western Oregon 30: Led by a trio of freshman, the Cougars dumped the Wolves in an exhibition game in Pullman. Taylor Edmondson scored 12 points and Mariah Cooks and Lia Galdeira added 11 apiece for the Cougars.
• Ester De Vries led a balanced attack with 12 kills and eight digs as San Francisco (14-11, 5-6) swept Gonzaga (9-16, 1-11) in a West Coast Conference match in San Francisco.
• Jalana White had 19 kills and 18 digs and Nicole Leonard and Abi Hedlund added 15 kills apiece as Whitworth (10-13, 6-10) ended its season with a 3-1 win over Linfield (9-15, 4-12) in a Northwest Conference match in McMinnville, Ore.
• Cora Kellerman had 15 kills and 16 digs and Eastern Washington swept Southern Utah (9-19, 5-11) in a Big Sky match in Cedar City, Utah, 25-16, 25-12, 29-27. The win was the fourth in five matches for the Eagles (4-24, 4-13).
Joe Virden scored early in the overtime period and Whitman (8-8-4, 6-5-3) beat short-handed Whitworth 2-1 in a Northwest Conference finale in Walla Walla. The Pirates (13-2-3, 10-2-2) rested some players for the upcoming NCAA Division III tournament. They will get details on who they play and when on Monday.
• Travis Hill and Jared Fretheim each had a goal and an assist as host CC Spokane secured a spot in the NWAACC tournament with a 3-0 win over Treasure Valley (4-6-5, 4-5-4).
Linfield (16-2-2, 12-2-2 NWC) used two first-half goals to beat host Whitworth (10-8-2, 10-4-2) 2-0. The match was Whitworth’s finale.
• Alli Floyd and Lateashea Currie scored twice as host CC Spokane (14-1-3, 13-1-2 NWAACC) blanked Treasure Valley (8-9-1, 7-8-1) 7-0.