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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

San Diego sinks Gonzaga women with late blocked shot

The frustration deepened a bit more for the Gonzaga women Thursday night.

“I’m just so tired of losing,” senior guard Georgia Stirton said after the latest one, a 58-57 heartbreaker to San Diego at the McCarthey Center.

This one played out the same as a one-point home loss last month to Saint Mary’s: Trailing by one point in the final seconds, Stirton assessed her options and found forward Jill Barta at the top of the circle.

Barta took the pass and drove the lane, but her scoop shot was blocked by the Toreros’ Sydney Williams. After a foul, San Diego ran out the clock to send the Bulldogs to their third straight loss and their eighth in the last 12 games.

The loss marked the first time since 2001-2 that GU has lost at least two West Coast Conference games at home. Now 9-8 in the WCC, the Bulldogs need to beat BYU on Saturday to avoid their first nonwinning WCC campaign in 14 years.

If GU coach Lisa Fortier was looking for improvement going into next week’s conference tournament, she didn’t see it.

“We’re not a good enough team to do things right half the time,” Fortier said after her team fell to 17-12 overall and 9-8 in the WCC. “We have to be aggressive all the time. We have to try to get open all of the time.

“And if we can’t do the plays when they matter, then you’re going to go in there unhappy,” she added, motioning toward the GU locker room.

Lack of aggression showed up on the boards – San Diego snared 17 offensive rebounds – and in the Bulldogs’ half-court offense. GU shot 46 percent from the field, but took only 46 shots – its second-lowest total of the season. On many possessions, the crowd of 5,630 began its helpful countdown as the shot clock began to expire.

Part of the reason was San Diego’s defense, which tried to deny passes to post Shelby Cheslek and forward Jill Barta.

“But our guards were still looking to pass in to the posts,” Fortier said.

Both teams got by with defense in the first half, which ended with San Diego ahead 32-29. The Bulldogs seized momentum in the third quarter, holding the visitors to six points while getting big plays from the backcourt.

GU took its biggest lead of the game (40-35) on a jumper by Laura Stockton with 1:39 left in the third. GU still led 53-49 when Stirton hit a layup with 4:03 remaining in the game.

The Toreros (22-6, 12-5) stayed in the game with several clutch 3-pointers. The first one, by Cori Woodward, came 20 seconds after Stirton’s layin.

Stirton – who finished 5 for 7 from the field – got the last of her team-high 11 points on a layin with 2:15 left, but Malina Hood tied the game at 55 with another 3 at the 1:51 mark.

With 40 seconds left, GU was up 57-55 after a layin by Cheslek, but the Toreros cashed in a turnover by Shaniqua Nilles. Hood got open from the corner and drained the winning 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.