Before the season began, Gonzaga women’s coach Lisa Fortier talked at length about … well, length.
The Bulldogs would have more of it this season, Fortier said, which should make things tougher on opposing offenses.
Long story short, it happened again on Sunday in Cheney, where the visiting Bulldogs stifled Eastern Washington 73-54.
“They have great length and experience, and they do things just a little faster,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said.
The Bulldogs led 42-26 at intermission, then overcame from a minor hiccup early in the third quarter to win comfortably in front of a mostly pro-Gonzaga crowd at Reese Court.
GU shot out of the gates, all right, taking a double-digit lead early in the second quarter and never looking back to improve to 7-2.
Credit GU’s defensive intensity, which in the first half held EWU to 8-for-23 shooting from the field and 3 for 13 from long range.
“Our individuals did a great job and we had great energy as a team,” Fortier said. “We knew we might not shoot the ball as well her, but controlling with our defensive effort was something we could do.”
Fortier’s frontcourt of 6-foot-3 Jill Barta, and Kiara Kudron and Elle Tinkle (both 6-2), made life tough on the Eagles, who committed 19 turnovers in the first half.
Before the game, EWU forward Delaney Hodgins was honored for becoming the 17th Eagle to score 1,000 career points, joining her graduated sister Hailey.
The Bulldogs applauded Hodgins, then sent Tinkle to shut her down. Hodgins finished with a team-high 13 points, but was only 6 for 16 from the field.
“That’s what we had to focus on,” Tinkle said. “But I didn’t have to do it my own – it was a team effort.”
Leading the way was Kudron, whose versatility carried GU through the rough spots. The senior was 4 for 6 from the field and had 13 points and 10 boards – both team highs.
“She’s an unsung hero,” Fortier said. “She definitely the glue guy she can do anything we ask her to do. We just don’t ask her to do them all at the same time.”
GU trailed 7-5 in the opening minutes, but the Bulldogs went on a 15-2 run that carried into the second quarter. An 18-point lead dwindled to 10 before the Bulldogs regained their composure and took a 57-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to come out pretty strong, so that was our focus,” Kudron said.
This game contrasted sharply with the Bulldogs’ last trip to Cheney, when Tinkle hit a buzzer-beater for a 61-60 win.
“As fun as that was, I’d rather not have to go through that again,” Tinkle said. “I think this one was a little less stressful.”
The only stress this week is finals, which begin Monday. After that comes a midterm of sorts against Northwestern on Dec. 19 at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Eastern (5-4) also gets the week off before playing at Air Force on Sunday.