Gonzaga’s Zhane Templeton pulled back and tossed up her second shot of the game, her toes just beyond the arc. It seemed as though the entire arena held its breath, paused and watched the ball travel from Templeton’s hands to the bottom of the hoop.
Then the Kennel erupted.
It was Gonzaga’s 16th 3-pointer of the night, the shot that broke the school record that the Zags had set earlier in the season against UC Irvine.
“I didn’t know I had it until after the game,” Templeton said. “I looked at my phone and I saw my mom (texted) it, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s good!’ ”
Senior Makenlee Williams hit one more 3 for the Zags with one minute left in the game to push Gonzaga’s 3-point record to 17, and the Zags finished with an 87-52 win over conference rival BYU on Thursday night, tying Gonzaga’s largest margin of victory over a West Coast Conference opponent this season, a 35-point win over Portland on Jan. 21.
Zags coach Lisa Fortier had a simple explanation for her team’s performance against the Cougars, who fell from second to third place in the WCC standings.
“We did the little things,” said Fortier, who called the Zags’ record-breaking night a team effort.
“There wasn’t one person you could help off all the time,” she said. “We just had to do the little things possession after possession after possession offensively and defensively, and I think that we did it wonderfully.”
The Cougars had their only lead, 2-0, in the first minute of the game, but the Zags went on a 12-0 run starting with Stach’s first 3 and never looked back.
The Zags hit six straight 3s in the first half, including three in a row by junior guard Emma Stach. Williams ended that 3-point run to put Gonzaga up 37-12 with less than three minutes left in the second quarter.
Seven Zags scored from beyond the arc, and six scored at least two 3s. Stach led the pack hitting 5 of 7 from 3-point range, while also scoring a team-high 17 total points. Williams followed with three more 3s for the Zags.
“We just played together. We didn’t force a lot of things. We came out and we played as a team,” Templeton said.
Gonzaga’s six players off the bench contributed 40 points, with four of them hitting 3s.
The Zags were 68 percent (17 of 25) from 3-point range while holding BYU to only two makes (12.5 percent) from 3-point range. For most of the night the Zags were more effective beyond the arc than they were from the entire field (27 of 51) against BYU.
Gonzaga topped the Cougars in every statistical category. The Zags outrebounded BYU 34-31 and dished out 23 assists compared to BYU’s six assists. The Cougars were held to 29.6 percent (16 of 54) from the field. BYU even lost at the free throw line by less than a percentage point, making 18 of 25 free-throw shots (72 percent), while Gonzaga had 16 makes out of 22 attempts (72.7 percent).
Gonzaga’s Laura Stockton followed Stach with 12 points, shooting 62.5 percent (5 for 8) from the field, and had five assists. Templeton and Williams scored nine points apiece for the Zags and junior center Emma Wolfram pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
Gonzaga visits Santa Clara on Feb. 4 at 2 p.m.
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