Faced with more adversity, Shaniqua Nilles and the Gonzaga women didn’t just stare it down.
They smiled in its face.
Coming into Thursday’s game against Loyola Marymount, the Bulldogs had lost five of their previous six games, then lost yet another key player when forward Kiara Kudron suffered a wrist injury last weekend.
If you’re counting, that makes three big injuries for the Bulldogs, who’ve lost Elle Tinkle and Emma Wolfram for the season. Fortunately, Kudron is expected back soon.
Shaniqua Nilles can relate. After GU dispatched LMU 83-68, Nilles recalled that she’d missed half of the season with a knee injury.
“I have a differerent perspective because I’ve been injured, so I now what Ella and Emma are feeling,” Nilles said. “They great leaders, whether they’re on the court or not.”
A senior, Nilles is determined to make up for lost time.
And she’s doing it with a smile. In her first start of the season, Nilles not only scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, she provided a few intangibles that seemed to be lacking earlier this year.
“I want to have fun and and want my teammates to remember why we played this game in the first place,” said Nilles, who started along with Jill Barta in place of Kudron and Chelsea Waters.
“I’m a fist-pumper, I’m a yeller … I wanted it to be a good time,” said Nilles, who played a game-high 34 minutes against LMU.
It was. After a slow start, the Bulldogs found their groove in the third quarter. A three-point halftime grew to 12, and GU never led by less than eight the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs clawed for every rebound and hustled for those proverbial 50-50 balls.
Speak about her teammates, Nilles said, “These are people I really care about … If I dive on ths loose ball that’s another possession for my team.”