MORAGA, California – Jill Barta and Chandler Smith combined for 36 points Thursday and Gonzaga never trailed during a 73-65 West Coast Conference women’s basketball win that kept the Bulldogs alone in first place.
Barta, who scored 19 on 7-for-19 shooting from the floor, and Smith, with 17 points on 6-for-12 field-goal shooting, finished a combined 10 for 11 from the free-throw line and added four steals apiece.
Barta added a team-high six rebounds, but the Bulldogs (14-4, 7-0) were outrebounded 37-25.
GU’s Zykera Rice added 11 points, shooting 5 for 8 from the field.
The Zags were 2 of 8 on 3-pointers while the Gaels (12-6, 5-2) shot 5 for 15.
“We gave such a great team effort tonight,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “Saint Mary’s is so strong and physical, but our team weathered their third-quarter push.
“We were able to string together some huge stops and scores when we needed them the most. I am really proud of our team for playing so tough on the road.”
Both teams excelled at the free-throw line, with the Zags hitting 19 of 24 and Saint Mary’s 18 of 23.
Stella Beck led the Gaels with a game-high 23 points, finishing 7 of 8 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line. Sydney Raggio and Megan McKay had 12 points and seven rebounds apiece.
The game was tied twice, at 2-all after 34 seconds and at 46-all late in the third quarter. Saint Mary’s closed to within one point seven times, but each time the Bulldogs responded.
Rice’s layup gave Gonzaga its biggest lead, 32-18, with 5:25 left in the second quarter.
Smith’s jumper late in the second quarter gave GU a 41-28 lead. Saint Mary’s scored the next 11 points to close within two points, but the Zags never surrendered their edge.
The Gaels trailed 51-50 early in the fourth quarter when Smith scored five consecutive points.
Barta’s jumper with 4:11 left and Laura Stockton’s layup with 2:52 to go gave the Zags a 62-55 lead.
The Gaels dropped into third place, one game behind BYU (6-1 WCC).
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