The first 20 minutes of Thursday’s Gonzaga-Loyola Marymount basketball game gave no hint that it would be Sunny Greinacher’s night.
Actually, the previous 80 minutes of Gonzaga games had the same feel.
But it was Greinacher’s night in the end, as the 6-foot-4 sophomore forward scored 17 of her career-high 21 points in the second half of a 79-57 victory over LMU at McCarthey Athletic Center.
“I was just thinking in the locker room when we went for the break that I still had 20 minutes to do everything I could,” Greinacher said.
The win, the fifth straight for the Bulldogs (17-5, 7-1), put them in first place alone because BYU (14-6, 5-2) posted a 66-58 home win over Saint Mary’s (14-6, 6-2).
Greinacher shot 8 for 8 from the floor in the second half to finish 10 for 13. She also shared team-high rebounding honors with Haiden Palmer (seven).
Greinacher’s previous career high, 17, came two weeks ago during a big home win over BYU. Since then, she had scored six points against San Diego and four against Pepperdine.
“The last two games haven’t been that great, so it was important to get out there and be strong again,” Greinacher said.
“Everyone has days or games when it just doesn’t go. You can try different things and you can try to refocus, but either the ball doesn’t go into the basket or you’re just not mentally there. That’s what I have to work on the most.”
“It’s always our plan to go inside,” GU coach Kelly Graves said. “If you’ve been around our program and you list the names of the post players we’ve had over the years, this has always been our bread and butter. Sunny, I think, can be the next one in that long line.”
With 6-5 center Shelby Cheslek limited to 3 minutes in the first half because of two quick fouls, the Bulldogs used their outside game to lead by as many as 21 points.
GU’s Keani Albanez secured an offensive rebound and hit a 3-pointer to spark a 7-0 run for a 20-10 lead halfway through the first half. Senior Taelor Karr powered an 11-0 run, and 34-14 edge, with a steal and layup, 3-pointer and two assists. Karr’s 10 points all came in the first half.
GU’s other senior, Meghan Winters, came off the bench for two 3-pointers and eight points, all in the first half. Winters has scored season highs in her last two games.
“Meghan has given us a lift, no question, and Taelor has been great all during conference play,” Graves said.
GU’s Jazmine Redmon scored seven of her 12 points in the second half. Palmer finished with nine points, a team-high five steals, and tied Karr with a team-best six assists.
The Lions (8-13, 2-6) had four players in double figures, topped by Hazel Ramirez’s 14.
Gonzaga will host last-place Pepperdine (4-15, 1-7) at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game is already listed as a sellout.