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Zykera Rice scores 23, No. 17 Gonzaga women top Pepperdine 79-54

Zykera Rice, center, pictured here in an early December matchup against Washington State, came up big on Monday, scoring 23 points in a victory over Pepperdine. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
From staff and wire reports

MALIBU, Calif. – Zykera Rice matched her career high of 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting and No. 17 Gonzaga rolled to its ninth straight win, defeating Pepperdine 79-54 on Monday.

Rice had six rebounds and a career-high six assists for the Bulldogs (13-1, 2-0 West Coast Conference), who took control in the third period.

“It’s a tough place to play here at Pepperdine every year,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “I’m really happy with our effort; we played very well offensively.”

Rice, the only Bulldog in double figures, had 13 at the half when the Zags, shooting 50 percent, took a 37-28 lead.

Rice, who scored the final basket of the half, had the first two in the third quarter as the run reached 11. Pepperdine sliced an 18-point deficit down to 13 when Jen Wirth and Laura Stockton combined for nine straight points to put the Zags back up by 22. Wirth added a jumper and Chandler Smith had a free throw to close the quarter with the Bulldogs on top 62-39.

The Waves (7-5, 1-1) were 3-of-15 shooting in the third quarter with five turnovers while Gonzaga made 9 of 14 plus 6 of 9 from the foul line.

Yasmine Robinson-Bacote and Rose Pflug had 14 points apiece for Pepperdine. Robinson-Bacote was averaging a conference-best 19 points per game.

“We did a good job, for the most part, especially in the second half of forcing their players into their weaknesses,” Fortier said. “Robinson-Bacote is a tough player, and holding her to 14 [points] is not an easy job.”