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Unexpected stars lead GU women to victory

Fans could have predicted many possible outcomes for Thursday’s crucial game between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, but few would have seen Stephanie Golden and Jazmine Redmon finishing as the top two scorers.

That’s what unfolded, however, and it certainly didn’t hurt Gonzaga’s drive to a ninth consecutive West Coast Conference women’s basketball title.

Golden, a junior center averaging 4.6 points per game, came off the bench to score a game- and season-high 13 and Redmon (6.1 ppg), a junior guard known for defense and all-around skills, added 12 as the Bulldogs defeated Saint Mary’s 69-54 with relative ease.

Redmon had a jumper, an assist and a 3-pointer during a 9-0 first-half run for a 20-12 lead. Saint Mary’s never came closer than four points after that, allowing the sellout crowd of 6,000 at McCarthey Athletic Center to relax.

Golden scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half. She had a layup and two free throws after the Gaels cut GU’s lead, which had been 14 points, to 51-43.

Gonzaga (21-5, 11-1) posted its ninth consecutive win and took a 2½-game lead over the Gaels (16-7, 8-3) and BYU (17-7, 8-3). GU has four conference games left, including Feb. 23 at BYU, while the second-place teams have five left.

GU avenged a 54-51 loss at Saint Mary’s on Jan. 10 and a home conference loss to the Gaels last season. Saint Mary’s is the lone WCC team with a win at Gonzaga since the 2009-10 season.

“I thought we played really physical, tough and strong,” Bulldogs coach Kelly Graves said. “They’re the most physical team in the conference and I thought we stood up to them toe-to-toe.”

Redmon drew the defensive assignment on the WCC’s leading scorer, Jackie Nared (17.9 ppg), and held the junior guard to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting from the floor.

“(Nared) could never get it going,” Graves said. “Obviously, it’s a team effort, but it started with Jazmine.”

“I just tried to not let her catch the ball, and when she did I just tried to play good defense on her and box her out,” Redmon said.

Redmon scored nine of her 12 points in the first half and finished 5 for 7 from the floor.

Golden, whose previous season high was 12 points, shot 4 for 8 from the field and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. Golden played high school ball in Moraga, Calif., where Saint Mary’s is located.

“There’s always a little more motivation to really, truly eliminate them from being in first place,” Golden said.

“I’m happy for Stephanie because she’s right from the Saint Mary’s neighborhood,” Graves said. “This is a team that obviously really wanted her and she chose to come here,”

Gonzaga shot 46 percent from the floor, a big lift from the 29 percent it shot at Saint Mary’s. The Bulldogs finished 12 for 16 from the line after being outscored 22-5 from the line at Moraga.

Carli Rosenthal (Coeur d’Alene High) had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Gaels.