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Elle Tinkle gets Zags off to fast start

Elle Tinkle scored the first 11 points of the game Saturday as Gonzaga defeated Nicholls State. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Elle Tinkle scored the first 11 points of the game Saturday as Gonzaga defeated Nicholls State. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
By Michael Gulledge michaelg@spokesman.com

Elle Tinkle wasted no time returning from her season-ending surgery a year ago.

In the first 3 minutes of Gonzaga’s 78-46 win over Nicholls State on Saturday, Tinkle already had 11 points. The score at this time was 11-0.

After a meniscus injury early in the season last year, Tinkle played in 10 games, which hovered around the 30 percent limit to qualify for the NCAA’s medical hardship waiver.

Without the waiver, Tinkle would’ve been unable to play for the Bulldogs this season as last year would have been her final season of eligibility.

The waiver was granted and Tinkle started the Zags’ opener with a bang.

Sixteen seconds into the game, the All-West Coast Conference preseason selection hit a 3-pointer to spark a 20-0 run for the Zags.

Tinkle also made a layup and two more 3-pointers before the teams had been playing for 3 minutes.

“I haven’t played in a long time, so I think I was just a little too cautious in the exhibition game,” Tinkle said. “I made that a point going into this game to come out a little more aggressive.”

The senior guard drained a couple of free throws before being subbed out with 2:02 left in the first period. She hadn’t missed a shot to that point.

“I thought she did a good job. She doesn’t always do things that show up on a stat sheet, but she brings good energy and is a defensive leader for us,” GU head coach Lisa Fortier said.

Sophomore forward Zykera Rice, who scored eight points in the Bulldogs victory, described Tinkle as a “catalyst” for the team.

“She makes a really big difference,” Rice said.

Tinkle returned to start the second half and played until the 2:37 mark of the third period.

She finished with 13 points, shooting 4 for 6 from the field, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers. She also had two rebounds.

“I hope to set the tone for the game like that a little more often,” Tinkle said.

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