CORVALLIS, Ore. – It’s not about the minutes, it’s what you do with them.
Gonzaga reserves Melody Kempton and Louise Forsyth learned that lesson the easy way on Saturday. Now they hope to continue the trend in a second-round NCAA Tournament game Monday night at Oregon State.
Twelve days ago, Kempton and Forsyth were pressed into service in the West Coast Conference title game against BYU. They played 12 minutes each and brought energy and a few rebounds, but no points.
It was a different story on Saturday.
The Zags beat Little Rock, 68-51, in their first-round NCAA Tournament game partly because of a huge first quarter that ended with GU up 21-2.
Two of the biggest plays came from Kempton – a rebound putback that made it 11-0 – and from Forsyth, whose long 3-pointer gave GU a 16-0 lead and forced Little Rock to call a timeout.
“I was excited to be out there and have confidence,” Forsyth said. “I’m just trying to come off the bench with lots of energy.”
Forsyth did that and much more. Playing a career-high 17 minutes, she made both of her 3-point shots to finish with six points.
Kempton, a former Post Falls High School star, had five points and a pair of rebounds while logging 12½ minutes.
Those aren’t big number until you consider the context. With Laura Stockton and Jill Townsend out with injuries, every quality minute counts.
“We’ve had such great depth, we didn’t have to call on her,” coach Lisa Fortier said of Forsyth.
“She’s extremely well-conditioned … she’s capable and she’s always ready,” Fortier said.
Both will be counted on Monday night in Gill Coliseum, where the Zags’ stamina was also was tested by the heat.
“It was really hot in there,” said starting forward Zykera Rice, who played 29 minutes – five above her average. “It keeps the muscles and body warm, that’s for sure.”
For senior wing Chandler Smith, who logged almost 33 minutes, “it’s the first time in my career where we had ice packs given to us – during the game.”
Fortunately, Little Rock had a short rotation as well, but that won’t be the case on Monday; Oregon State is one of the deeper teams in the tournament.
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