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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gu women back on track

Stopped in to watch the Gonzaga women's basketball team, not expecting much of a game and it wasn't, a 30-point romp for the Bulldogs over UC Irvine. Just wanted to see if there was an lingering affects from the disappointment of a lost weekend in Las Vegas (well, not compared to the move Hangover). After an average first half the Zags answered that with a sensational second half.

The unedited game story filed for Monday's newspaper is on the extended entry, along with my Top 25 for this week (see if you notice the one change) and a few other items.

Comments on women's basketball have been non-existent. No doubt everyone is pleased with what we're doing here, but it does make a person wonders if there is a reason to do this. So, let's have some conversations. This week, the question is: What do you think of Gonzaga, having come up short against four ranked teams (that includes S.D. State on opening weekend before the Jackrabbits disappeared into their hole)? With other worthy opponents failing to make noise (Montana, UCSB, Portland State), is the Bulldogs' only chance to go dancing hinge on one March game?

Hope you got to watch Stanford-UConn. The first half was the best basketball game this year and the second was proof that UConn is in a league of its own. Since Stanford handled Tennessee earlier, the same may be true of the Cardinal. League play will tell.

Since GU played and the Cougars will play USC, this story is a good read for fans. Graham Hays gives us a look at the week ahead, probably the last of good non-league matchups except for a few made for TV games down the road. And, Charlie Creme has some bracketology news that might make a few smile, with Seattle a possible destination for UConn - where I'm sure Gonzaga will be if they win that one March game.

So, for the game story and rankings, read on.

By Dave Trimmer; (509) 927-2154

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team got back on track Sunday afternoon, erasing the disappointment of a pair of losses to highly-ranked Big 12 Conference teams last weekend in Las Vegas with a 96-57 dismantling of UC Irvine.

It was the stellar all-around play of Vivian Frieson and Bulldogs-at-their-best second half that pleased a nice crowd of 2,733 at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Frieson filled up the stat sheet with a season-high 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks, plus the pregame comment that set the tone.

“We just wanted to come in and play hard,” she said. “We didn’t play that great against Baylor. … Against Texas A&M, we played a lot harder that game, played with a lot of heart and we showed we can play with teams of that caliber. We just wanted to come in and have that mentality all the time.

“That was the last thing I said before the game started … ‘Let’s be the team from the second half of Texas A&M.’ That’s what we have to do all the time.”

And that’s certainly what the Zags (10-4) did, especially in the second half when they outscored the Anteaters (3-9) 31-9 in less than 10 minutes.

Gonzaga finished with a 53-26 second half rout by shooting 67 percent, out-rebounding Irvine by 12, scoring 18 points off turnovers and increasing their fast-break points from four to 18 while limiting UCI to two.

Kayla Standish came off the bench for her first double-double of 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Heather Bowman had 15 points, closing within 66 of the West Coast Conference career record and 124 of the GU mark. Courtney Vandersloot had 10 points, all in the second half, and eight assists, 42 shy of the GU career mark and 101 of the WCC record.

Irvine’s only player in double figures was Jade Smith Williams with 13. Mikah Maly-Karros, the daughter of former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros, had 10 rebounds but none in the second half.

“It was a matter of bearing down a little more,” Frieson said. “We just came off Christmas vacation. That’s not an excuse, but there was a little rust. It was just a matter of us saying we have to bear down no matter who this team is.”

Frieson carried the Zags to a 43-31 halftime lead with 17 points. Though the Bulldogs never seemed to get into too much of an offensive rhythm, after the Anteaters took a 10-9 lead they slowly sipped behind. The key surge came immediately after Irvine’s lead, when GU went on a 12-3 run with Friesen and Bowman scoring four points apiece.

“I thought overall we played very well tonight,” GU coach Kelly Graves said. “I don’t even think we played that poorly in the first half. They were scrappy, tough and they were physical.

“I thought the second half we got it turned up defensively, got some steals and then we’re pretty good when we’re in transition.”

The Bulldogs play traditional Big West power Santa Barbara on Thursday before getting a nine-day break before opening WCC play at home against Portland. UCSB is 3-7 going into a

1. UConn
2. Stanford
3. Notre Dame
4. Tennessee
5. Ohio State
6. Baylor
7. North Carolina
8. Duke
9. Georgia
10. Xavier
11. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma
13. Nebraska
14. Texas
15. Green Bay
16. Vanderbilt
17. Kansas
18. Michigan State
19. Georgia Tech
20. Florida State
21. LSU
22. West Virginia
23. James Madison
24. Dayton
25. Arizona State

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