Comparing Gonzaga, leader of the West Coast Conference women’s basketball standings, and Loyola Marymount, the team that would seem to be the best bet to keep the Bulldogs from winning a fifth straight title, indicated the Saturday afternoon matchup at McCarthey Athletic Center should have been a barn-burner.
Both teams averaged 72.2 points a game and weren’t very far apart in most other categories.
They are far apart in results.
Gonzaga dominated the two areas it was favored, defense and inside presence. Forwards Heather Bowman and Vivian Friesen both had double-doubles and the Bulldogs closed the first half with a 15-0 run on the way to an 83-58 win before 2,617 fans.
“(The key) was just us,” Friesen said after scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. “A lot of the times we tend to focus on the other team when we just need to focus on us. As long as we play our game, play as hard as we can and do the things we’re supposed to do, we’ll be fine.”
The Bulldogs (17-4, 5-0 WCC) shot 45 percent, held LMU (13-6, 3-2) to 35 percent and in the one spot the Lions had better numbers coming in, rebounding, the Zags just pounded them, to the tune of 50-34, with 17 coming on the offensive end.
“A lot of it was just going at them,” said Bowman, who had 28 points and 10 boards, seven offensive. “We got to the free-throw (line) a lot in the first half, which established the inside game, and then rebounding was a big factor. We knew we had an advantage in size.”
The Bulldogs had 19 assists, nine by Courtney Vandersloot to go with her 15 points, and just 13 turnovers, while LMU had 15 turnovers and nine assists. GU had 22 points off turnovers, the Lions nine.
“We did a nice job on both ends,” GU coach Kelly Graves said. “It was a pretty well-balanced, well-rounded game. We took care of the ball, we shot a decent percentage, we outrebounded them, a little bit of everything. And we got good lift from a lot of different players. The bench did real well.”
Claire Raap topped the reserves with 10 points.
Twice in the first half the Bulldogs carved out a nine-point lead, only to have the Lions claw back. But after an LMU free throw made it 32-28 for the Zags just after the 5-minute mark, the game turned. Bowman had six free throws and a jumper, Friesen scored in the lane, Vandersloot set up Janelle Bekkering and reserve Kayla Standish hit one of her two 3-pointers.
“That was a good game against a good team,” Graves said. “I like the fact that we were able to get out and go in transition. When we were able to make that run in the first half, that was great basketball – good defense, we were getting boards, getting it out and getting lay-ins. We’re pretty good when we can do that.”
LMU’s top four scorers are guards, but only Cassady Moore reached her average with 15 points.
“They’re littler than our guards but they really like to drive hard to the paint,” Friesen said. “What we really worked to do was clog the middle. If they don’t see the driving lanes, they don’t even try to take them.”
USC 78, Washington State 57: Heather Oliver came off the bench and buried 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range on her way to a game-high 18 points as the Trojans (11-7, 5-2) rolled to a win over the visiting Cougars (8-10, 1-6) in Pacific-10 Conference play.
April Cook scored 16 points to top WSU.
UCLA 74, Washington 66: Doreena Campbell tossed in 20 points and Christina Nzekwe chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bruins (14-4, 5-2) past the Huskies (5-12, 1-6) in Pac-10 play in Los Angeles.
Kristi Kingma hit six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 25 points for Washington.
Portland State 65, Eastern Washington 55: Kelli Valentine and Claire Faucher each scored 14 and Valentine added nine rebounds to guide the Vikings (13-6, 6-0) to a Big Sky Conference win over the host Eagles (8-11, 3-3).
Julie Piper notched a double-double for the Eagles with game highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Throw out Piper and the rest of the EWU starters combined to score six points on 1-of-12 shooting from the floor.
CC Spokane 47, Treasure Valley 42: Reserve Kelsey Stillar tallied a game-high 16 points – hitting 4 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc – to propel the Sasquatch (10-7, 3-2) to a win over the visiting Chukars (10-7, 3-2) in Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges action.
The Sasquatch pulled out the victory despite shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor for the game, including 25 percent in the second half. CCS was outrebounded 40-24, but hit seven 3-pointers to just one for TV.
North Idaho 70, Snow 64: Lindsey Wimett tallied 15 points and Natalie Nickels scored 13 to send the Cardinals (17-3, 4-1) past the Badgers (12-8, 3-2) in Scenic West Athletic Conference action in Coeur d’Alene.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.