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GU women overwhelm UC Irvine

As measuring sticks go, UC Irvine came up quite a bit short Sunday afternoon.

On the other hand, the Anteaters offered something more important to the Gonzaga women’s basketball team: confidence, the kind that only a 64-point win can provide.

Lockdown defense and wide-open shots were the norm as the Bulldogs took care of business in a102-38 non-conference win at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

It was the second-largest margin of victory in program history, eclipsed only by a 114-40 win over Division III Whitman in 2010.

And while nothing is perfect – “We were a bit casual in some of our rebounding,” coach Lisa Fortier said – the Bulldogs (2-0) will carry the requisite self-assuredness going into Friday’s game at 11th-ranked Stanford.

One thing for sure: Makenlee Williams and the Bulldogs won’t be afraid to pull the trigger from 3-point range. The transfer from Utah State missed her first three attempts, then made six straight.

Williams’s last trey, with 82 seconds left, was GU’s 15th of the game, breaking the record of 14 set in 2002 against UC Riverside.

That also made the score 99-38. Zykera Rice’s layup with 57 seconds left put the Bulldogs over the century mark for the first time in the Fortier era and brought the biggest cheers of the afternoon.

“I had to keep shooting and it paid off,” said Williams, who finished with a game-high 20 points in just 19 minutes. “It felt really good and I felt like I was back to myself, in that zone, in that rhythm.”

The Bulldogs followed her lead, shooting just 37 percent from long range in the first half but 54 percent in the second. With point guard Laura Stockton running the show for 22 minutes, they also had 25 assists.

Every Zag played, but none for more than 23 minutes. That was the idea, Fortier said.

“We’re going to need everybody at Stanford, and hopefully this will lead to a good week of practice heading into that game. A lot of players got quality minutes and quality looks,” Fortier said.

Irvine got very few. The Bulldogs got a slow start defensively the day before in a 78-46 win over Nicholls State, but not this time. The Anteaters made just two of their first 13 shots, trailed 25-4 after one quarter and 50-18 at halftime.

It was a game of many droughts for the Anteaters. The biggest lasted almost eight minutes and came during a 19-0 GU run.

“We talked about not coming out the same way we did yesterday,” Fortier said. “We were really helping each other out and staying composed on ball screens.”

GU also dominated inside. Senior forward Kiara Kudron had a game-high 13 rebounds while going 4-for-6 from the field. Jill Barta scored 15 points and added eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, Fortier told Rice to come off the bench and “get all the rebounds.” The sophomore from Lakewood, Washington did that and more, getting 10 boards and scoring 16 points along with four blocks.

“Our team chemistry has been amazing so far,” Rice said.

Teirra Hicks led UC Irvine with 9 points.

GU’s next home game is Dec. 3 against Presbyterian.

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