The excitement on Gonzaga’s bench Thursday increased with each 3-pointer Taelor Karr made.
Maybe only GU Director of Basketball Operations Michelle (Elliott) Clark was satisfied when Karr stopped at eight.
Karr finished 8 for 9 on long-range shots and scored a career-high 27 points as Gonzaga (11-4) stormed from the gate in a West Coast Conference women’s basketball opener with a 77-57 win over San Diego (8-5) at McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Bulldogs are in search of their ninth consecutive WCC title.
Karr fell shy of the school record that Clark set in 2007 by hitting 9 of 12 3-pointers against Sacramento State.
“I didn’t know (about the record) until just now, so I wish someone would have told me on the bench because I would have kept shooting,” Karr joked. “Oh well, I guess I can take eight.
“That would have been a nice competition to try to beat (Clark) and then rub it in her face. But that’s all right. I’ll let her keep it.”
Karr, a senior guard, also eclipsed 1,000 points in her career, which includes two seasons at Kansas State before she transferred to GU. Her previous game high was 22 against Saint Francis last January.
She added a game-high four assists, tied for the team high with five rebounds and teamed with junior guard Haiden Palmer for 12 steals.
Karr averaged 7.4 ppg through this season’s nonconference games, so Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves approached her before WCC play about improving her offensive output.
“We actually talked this week about that and it was great to see her just looking for her shot,” Graves said. “I think she can be the best player in the conference, I really do.
“She was hunting her shot tonight, feeling it, and her teammates were smart enough to get her the ball.”
Karr passed her season high by halftime, hitting 4 of 4 3-pointers on the way to 15 points. Her high had been 14 points against Wisconsin.
Karr’s first 3-pointer, 3 minutes into the game, capped a 7-0 run and gave GU a 9-2 lead.
She added a 3-pointer and a free throw during an 11-0 run that put the Toreros into a 20-3 hole. From there, the Bulldogs cruised to their 10th consecutive win over San Diego.
Palmer, GU’s season scoring leader, added 15 points with 5-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line.
“I know I need to take more pressure off Haiden with the scoring role,” Karr said. “I think she’s been struggling a lot this year because it’s all been on her shoulders.”
“We talked to Taelor in terms of being more aggressive offensively,” Graves said. “She can be a great player. … It was awesome to see her and Haiden on fire on the same night.”
Junior guard Amy Kame, USD’s scoring leader at 15.4 ppg, scored 14 points. Sophomore forward Katelyn McDaniel came off the bench for 11 points and a game-high six rebounds.