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Gonzaga sets up clash with No. 7 Louisville

Kelly Graves’ Gonzaga squad won both games of its season-opening California road swing. (Dan Pelle)
Kelly Graves’ Gonzaga squad won both games of its season-opening California road swing. (Dan Pelle)

Things are about to get hotter in Mexico.

Sophomore guard Keani Albanez scored a career-high 19 points on Tuesday as Gonzaga raced past Missouri State 80-66 to open the Hardwood Tournament of Hope at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The victory earned the Bulldogs (5-0) a semifinal matchup at 6:30 tonight against seventh-ranked Louisville (4-0). The Cardinals dispatched Central Florida 94-73 in their opener as Sara Hammond had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Gonzaga fans should remember their last game against Louisville, when the Bulldogs won 76-69 to advance to the Elite Eight at the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Albanez, who scored 17 points in GU’s first two games this year, shot 6 for 9 from the floor, including 3 of 6 on 3-pointers, and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line.

Albanez also led a 14-0 run to end the first half as the Bulldogs broke from a 27-all tie. She hit a layup with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left for a 33-27 lead, followed 42 seconds later with a 3-pointer, and added a layup with 32 seconds left.

GU shot 7 of 11 on 3-pointers during the first half.

Gonzaga maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half, building its lead as high as 21 points (62-41) with 10:45 left.

Gonzaga’s balanced scoring included 16 points apiece from junior guards Jazmine Redmon (Mead High) and Haiden Palmer and 12 points from junior center Stephanie Golden.

Redmon, who hit 4 of 4 on 3-pointers and led the team with five assists, also reached a career high for scoring.

Golden, who had a game-high three blocked shots, teamed with freshman guard/forward Chelsea Waters (Lewiston) for 13 rebounds. Waters’ seven rebounds were a career best.

Gonzaga finished with 21 points off turnovers.

The Bears’ only lead (17-15) came when Tyonna Snow hit a 3-pointer with 13:27 left in the first half. The Bulldogs answered with an 8-0 run as Albanez had two 3-pointers and Palmer hit a jumper.

The Bulldogs’ only other 5-0 start came during the 2008-09 season. That team went on to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Whitney Edie led the Bears (1-2) with seven rebounds and 16 points, hitting 7 of 13 from the floor.