Two nights after being fitted for the West Coast Conference crown, the Gonzaga women’s basketball team was upset 71-59 Saturday by visiting Pacific in the final home game for four Bulldogs seniors.
The Tigers trailed by four at halftime and 11 at one point in the second half before a 27-4 scoring stretch gave them the lead for good and ended Gonzaga’s 16-game winning streak.
“Turning the ball over and not stopping them is a bad combination,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said. “We can’t expect to win against a team like that by giving the ball away 22 times and giving up (15) offensive rebounds.”
Neither Fortier nor the players blamed the loss on the net-cutting ceremony Thursday night after beating Saint Mary’s to claim the team’s 11th consecutive WCC crown.
“It’s disappointing,” Fortier said. “It was especially tough on a day like this when you want to celebrate your seniors.”
The game started with introductions of seniors Lindsay Sherbert, Sunny Greinacher, Keani Albanez and Laura Sullivan.
Junior guard Elle Tinkle opened the contest by nailing a 3-pointer and scored eight of Gonzaga’s first 10 points as the Bulldogs opened a 10-4 lead.
The Bulldogs (22-5, 15-1) pushed the lead to 11, but the Tigers always responded.
Erin Butler hit a 3-pointer and was fouled, leading to a rare 4-point play. Pacific got a steal and Najah Queenland hit a 3-pointer to make it 21-19 with about 5 minutes left in the half.
With the lead still at only 2 points, Greinacher missed a shot inside, got her own rebound and hit the layup to make it 25-21. That remained the margin at halftime with Gonzaga leading 29-25.
Gonzaga came out in the second half and opened with a missed 3-pointer by Albanez. But the Zags pushed their lead to 12 when Georgia Stirton hit a 3-pointer with 17:43 left to play.
Leading 45-34, Gonzaga wouldn’t score again for more than five minutes and the Tigers took the lead for good with 9:56 to play.
“They shot their way back into the game,” Tinkle said. “They made the plays that allowed them to have the big run and we didn’t respond like we have this year.”
Tinkle led the Zags with 13 points, but only three in the second half. Albanez scored 12 and Greinacher had nine points and led the team with nine rebounds.
The Tigers had four players score in double figures, led by 16 from Hallie Eackles. Kendall Kenyon had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Pacific (20-7, 12-4).
The Tigers shot 50 percent in the second half after hitting only 10 of 35 shots in the first half (28.6 percent). Pacific also scored 16 points off the 22 Gonzaga turnovers.
“Coach said maybe this is what we needed if we are able to respond,” Tinkle said. “The seniors poured their hearts and souls to get us where we are. We wanted to win for them.”
Greinacher, of Essen, Germany, said she got choked up after her last game in the sold-out McCarthey Athletic Center.
“I’m usually not the emotional type,” she said. “But when I looked at our coaches and the team and realized this is the last home game, it’s crazy to think about.”
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