The Gonzaga women had this one wrapped up early, but they got some help.
The Bulldogs’ 72-42 nonconference win against overmatched Colgate was partly gift-wrapped by the Raiders, who by packing the paint gave GU half a season’s worth of open looks outside.
The Bulldogs did the rest in the first half of Thursday’s matinee at the McCarthey Athletic Center, shooting twice as well (10-for-16, or 62.5 percent) from long range as they did from inside the arc (6-for-20, or 30 percent).
But after bombing their way to a 45-20 halftime lead, the Bulldogs eased their way to the finish line, battling thoughts of home as they finished off the Raiders.
“This game is always tough, the last game before break to meet our families in the back of our minds,” said Elle Tinkle, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds before she piled into a car to join her family in Corvallis, Oregon.
Others were heading to the airport, eager to get a few days with family and friends before conference play begins Thursday at Pepperdine.
Certainly the holidays will be a lot more cheerful with tales of a 9-2 season that includes wins over Stanford, Washington State and Northwestern.
This game was more of a stocking-stuffer, but it also means the Bulldogs go into WCC play with their best nonconference mark in three years under coach Lisa Fortier.
“Unless you’re UConn, you don’t think you’re going to win them all,” said Fortier, whose club lost to Michigan and Florida State in the Paradise Jam.
“We’ve had success against a varied group of opponents,” Fortier said. “This was a nice nonconference schedule, and the losses taught us a few things about ourselves,” Fortier said.
The biggest revelation is that the Bulldogs are deep; everyone played against Colgate (3-8), but none for more than Tinkle’s 26 minutes. Jill Barta’s 11 points and 12 rebounds were good enough for team highs in both categories.
“I like how versatile our team is,” said forward Zykera Rice, who had eight points and eight boards in just 14 minutes. “And we also have 12 able bodies at practice and not eight.”
That’s the other difference between last year’s injury-plagued outfit and the current one.
“It’s just nice to know that we can look down the line and see everyone filling different roles,” said Tinkle, who missed most of last year with a knee injury.
“Knock on wood,” Tinkle said.
The Bulldogs left little doubt in this one despite missing six of their first seven shots. An 8-5 lead ballooned to 24-7 after one quarter as GU found its range from outside and carried forward its defensive mojo from the big win over Northwestern on Monday.
Tinkle, Makenlee Williams and Emma Stach each went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc in the first half.
The crowd of 5,719 never lost interest, raising the roof when backup point guard Jessie Loera had a steal and a three-point play to put GU up 45-18 late in the half.
GU lost some intensity in the second half, going 0-for-11 from long range and defending listlessly at times as Fortier emptied the bench.
“A game like this make you work on a lot of different things,” Fortier said.