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Gonzaga women shake off poor first half to defeat Loyola Marymount in West Coast Conference opener

UPDATED: Sat., Dec. 29, 2018, 9:03 p.m.

Gonzaga forward Zykera Rice, shooting against Idaho on Dec. 20, scored a team-high 15 points on Saturday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Zykera Rice, shooting against Idaho on Dec. 20, scored a team-high 15 points on Saturday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Staff ,wire reports

LOS ANGELES – Zykera Rice scored 15 points to lead a balanced attack and No. 20 Gonzaga dominated the second half to defeat Loyola Marymount 78-53 on Saturday in the West Coast Conference women’s basketball opener.

The Bulldogs (12-1) shot just 29 percent in the first half and trailed the Lions (7-6) 29-23.

“In the first half, we were letting their pressure dictate everything we did offensively, and that was slowing down our defense,” GU head coach Lisa Fortier said. “To be honest, a defensive half of 29 points isn’t terrible … but the offense we had in the first half was terrible.”

But the second half was a different story.

Gonzaga was 12-of-19 shooting in the third quarter for a 29-10 scoring advantage and went 10 of 16 in the fourth for a 26-14 advantage.

Loyola Marymount, which shot 41 percent in the first half, went 2 of 11 in the third quarter and 7 of 26 in the second half, including 1 of 11 from 3-point range after a 4-of-6 first half. The Zags had a 20-2 run in the final quarter.

All nine scholarship players scored and played at least 13 minutes for Gonzaga, which has won eight straight.

“Obviously, the second half was tremendous, both offensively and defensively,” Fortier said. … “It was a much better job.”

Gabby Green scored 16 points and Cierra Belvin 14 for the Lions. Belvin had 11 at halftime and her 3-pointer closed the game.

LMU had 25 turnovers, which the Zags turned into 24 points.

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