MISSOULA – Jill Barta paved the way Saturday as Gonzaga’s women’s basketball team broke through in the win column for the first time this season.
Barta finished with game highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Bulldogs (1-1) never trailed during a 70-55 nonconference road victory over Montana (0-3).
Barta, a forward playing in her home state, shot 8 of 15 from the floor and 4 of 5 from the free-throw line. She hit 3 of 6 on 3-pointers while the rest of the Bulldogs were a combined 1 for 14.
“It was a great effort by our team tonight,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “Montana is never an easy place to play, and we knew we were going to have to play tough, play physical, and make a way for ourselves if we wanted to come out ahead, and we did just that. I love how we rebounded the ball (a 49-34 edge). It’s also always good when you can get your players back in their home state, and it was a great homecoming for Jill Barta.”
Laura Stockton added 11 points, five assists and three steals for the Bulldogs, who were coming off a season-opening loss at Colorado State.
GU’s Chandler Smith added 16 points but was 6 for 18 from the floor.
Stockton hit a jumper 15 seconds into the game and the Bulldogs never trailed, although the Grizzlies (0-3) forged two early ties. Barta hit two free throws late in the first quarter and Zykera Rice added a jumper for a 15-10 lead.
Barta hit a 3-pointer with 6:32 left in the first half after Montana closed within one point. GU took a 33-24 lead into halftime after two Smith free throws with 32 seconds left.
The lead grew to double digits after another Barta 3-pointer with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
GU built the lead to 18 points in the final quarter.
The Bulldogs will play at the Play4Kay Showcase in Las Vegas over the Thanksgiving holiday. GU will open at 8 p.m. Thursday against Belmont.
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