The Gonzaga women have already registered some impressive “signature” wins this season. On Thursday in Malibu, California, Pepperdine got one of its own.
Barbara Sitanggan scored 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, with six rebounds and six assists, and the Waves (3-9) upset the Bulldogs (9-3) 79-69 in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.
It’s the first time in four years Gonzaga has dropped its conference opener.
Gonzaga knocked off Stanford, Washington State and and Northwestern in early nonconference play, but Pepperdine showed that the Zags need to do more than show up to win in the conference.
The Zags were done in on the boards, outrebounded 50-33, including by 19 offensive rebounds for Pepperdine, which led to 25 second-chance points. The Bulldogs couldn’t make up the difference from beyond the arc, managing just 5 of 28 (17.9 percent) from downtown.
Pepperdine also held a significant advantage at the line, going 23 of 30 while Gonzaga settled for 14 of 17.
The Zags trailed by two after three quarters, but the Waves took control at that point, outscoring the visitors 29-21 in the fourth.
A 3-pointer by Laura Stockton and a pair for free throws by Jill Barta made it a one-point game, 54-53, with 8:19 left. But a jump shot and subsequent layup by Yas Robinson-Bacote stretched Pepperdine’s lead to 10 with 3:25 to go.
The Zags got it down to five with with a layup by Kudron with 1:10 to go, but Stockton missed a 3-point attempt with 39 seconds left and Pepperdine hit 9 of 10 from the line down the stretch to hold off any late charge.
Sitanggan was 3 of 8 from the field but hit 13 of 15 from the line and added six assists. Robinson-Bacote had 10 points in the fourth and finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Pepperdine, while Sydney Bordonaro had 14 points. Megan House added 12 points and nine boards.
Kiara Kudron led Gonzaga with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Barta finished with 20 points with three blocked shots and Emma Stach added 10 points. Stockton finished with four points and Elle Tinkle had just three points, though she grabbed 10 rebounds.
Gonzaga hosts Pacific on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a New Year’s Eve matinee.