Just like it did against Loyola Marymount on Monday, the Gonzaga women’s basketball team got out to a significant lead early – but this time, the Bulldogs maintained control the whole game.
The 23rd-ranked Zags (7-2, 2-0 West Coast Conference) never trailed Pepperdine after taking an 8-0 lead to start the game, leaning on a renewed defensive effort to stifle an early push and lead by as much as 17 en route to winning their sixth straight, 58-42 on Wednesday in Malibu, California.
Forward Jenn Wirth had 12 points and 14 boards for her 11th career double-double and her fifth in the past six games. Guard Jill Townsend finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds as GU pulled away in the second half.
LeeAnne Wirth matched her sister with 12 points to go with seven rebounds. Kayleigh Truong had eight points and five of GU’s 16 assists.
The Bulldogs withstood the Waves’ (3-3, 0-2) best shot in the second quarter, when a nearly 6-minute drought gave Waves guard Malia Bambrick (10 points, three assists) time to get going and tie the game at 26-all with 3 minutes remaining in the half.
But Pepperdine’s mistakes on offense – just as in its loss to Portland on Monday – were costly and untimely, and GU’s aggressive zone kept the Waves from scoring before halftime. In total, the Waves shot 9 for 16 on free throws and turned the ball over in nearly a quarter of their possessions.
After halftime, the Zags had a 10-3 run, with six from Jenn Wirth, to stretch the lead back to double digits.
GU struggled shooting from deep for the second game in a row, but so did the Waves, who finished 1 of 8 to GU’s 3 of 15.
Instead, the Bulldogs spent much of the second half asserting themselves in the paint.
Led by the Wirth twins and Melody Kempton, who grabbed six boards off the bench, the Zags outrebounded Pepperdine 25-9 in the second half, with 10 on the offensive end.
“When you are on the road, I think it’s really important to control things you can, and I always think rebounding is one of the great equalizers,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “I am really proud of the team for the way we rebounded the ball today. It made a huge difference in the game.”
The Zags return home to play host on Jan. 2 to 2-5 Saint Mary’s .
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