Gonzaga’s women’s basketball players have talked about taking some of the scoring load off junior guard Haiden Palmer.
Although they’ve done that in their first two West Coast Conference games of the season, that doesn’t mean Palmer has vanished.
Palmer, Gonzaga’s only player who averages in double figures (12.8 points per game) scored a game-high 17 points Saturday afternoon during the Bulldogs’ 79-50 cakewalk over Santa Clara at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Palmer connected on 8 of 12 field-goal attempts as GU improved to 12-4 overall and 2-0 in the WCC. Santa Clara, which found itself in an 18-2 hole 6 minutes into the game, fell to 9-6, 1-1.
Palmer also scored 15 points in GU’s first conference game, Thursday’s win over San Diego that was highlighted by senior guard Taelor Karr’s career-high 27 points with 8-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers.
Karr still had the touch Saturday, hitting 3 of 4 on 3-pointers and scoring 15 points. Sophomore forward Sunny Greinacher added 11 points in 18 minutes.
“Just in general, I think, we just had to get more scorers going because in some games there’d be only a couple of us scoring,” Palmer said. “We had to spread it out and we got the post game going, too.”
Palmer scored 13 points while playing 12 minutes during the lopsided first half. The Bulldogs sprinted ahead 8-0 and added scoring runs of 10-0 and 11-0 to lead by as many as 33 points in a first half that ended 47-17.
Palmer scored 11 points during the first 6½ minutes, including a 3-pointer and two layups after she stole the ball.
“I think I’m always aggressive, but it helps more when the shot’s going in,” Palmer said. “So that just gave me some more confidence to take more shots, even some that were kind of contested.”
Gonzaga’s 53 percent field-goal shooting in the first half cooled off to 43 percent in the second half, but coach Kelly Graves substituted liberally.
The Broncos, coached by former GU player and assistant Jennifer Mountain, kept battling and won the second half 33-32.
“We tell our kids to play for 40 minutes,” Graves said. “We wanted to duplicate what we did in the first half and in the second half we didn’t do that. I credit Santa Clara. They came out and played a little harder and scrappier than we did. But that’s tough. It is tough. It’s human nature to maybe let down a little bit.
“As we mature as a team, we won’t do that. I’ve had teams in the past that had 30-point halftime leads and they’ve taken it to 40 by the first media timeout.”
Graves complimented freshman forward Kiara Kudron, who had a game-high eight rebounds in 15 minutes, and junior guard Jazmine Redmon, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and a game-best six assists.
Redshirt senior forward Lindsay Leo led the Broncos with 16 points and six rebounds, shooting 7 of 14 from the floor.