Hopefully all those rebounds won’t stay in Vegas.
When the West Coast Conference season starts next week, the Gonzaga women will try to dominate the boards the same way they did in the Holiday Hoops Classic.
The 23rd-ranked Zags wrapped up the two-day tournament Monday with a record-breaking 87-57 rout of North Alabama, improving to 5-2 going into the WCC opener on Dec. 28 at Loyola Marymount.
More important, they offered a challenge to conference rivals in the paint.
Through seven games, including matchups with rugged South Carolina and South Dakota, the Zags have outrebounded opponents by an average of 34 to 22 – a staggering plus-12.
With 6-foot-3 twins Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth leading the way – their stats were almost identical – the Zags outrebounded the smaller Lions 56 to 20.
The plus-36 rebounding margin was a record under coach Lisa Fortier, breaking the previous mark of plus-35 set in 2016 at San Diego.
That came a day after they owned the boards by a 43 to 19 margin in a 9-point win over Eastern Michigan.
The Zags didn’t shoot well in that game, but they put it all together against North Alabama, an Atlantic Sun Conference member which went 21-7 last year but is off to a 1-7 start.
The Zags also dished out 30 assists – three more than any previous Fortier team.
Gonzaga made seven of its first nine shots, using a 13-0 run to take an early 19-2 lead.
“I loved the way we started the game today,” Fortier said. “We came out with intensity and set the tone on the glass and in transition right away.”
North Alabama cut the lead to 10 in the final minute of the half, but GU moved in front 40-26 going into halftime.
A 12-2 start in the third quarter put the game out of reach, as GU took a 52-28 lead.
LeeAnne Wirth, who had a double-double by halftime, finished with 14 points, 12 boards and 4 assists. She shot 6-for-9 from the field.
Jenn Wirth had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists while going 7-for-9.
Jill Townsend chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds, and Melody Kempton added 10 points and four boards.
North Alabama was led in scoring by Jaila Roberts with 15 points; Sakyia White added 11. As a team, the Lions finished 35.2% from the floor and 30.8% from long range.
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