Hobbled by injury, the Gonzaga women still managed to pick up the pace on the way to an 83-65 win at Pacific on Thursday night in Stockton, California.
In their first game after losing guard Katie Campbell to a knee injury, the Zags played a dominant second half and ran away from a team that nearly beat them in Spokane.
GU also played one of its most complete games of the season, shooting 53% from the field, 44% from long range, while dominating on the boards and getting 8 points or more from eight players.
“We’re tough to game-plan for,” head coach Lisa Fortier said after the Zags won a nation-best 21th straight game even as they had to adjust for the loss of Campbell.
True freshman Kayleigh Truong got her first collegiate start, playing a season-high 28 minutes while scoring 6 points and getting three assists.
The Zags gave up the most points since a 68-67 win over Pacific three weeks ago, but put up the most since scoring 92 on Cal State Bakersfield in the season opener almost three months ago.
Despite all that, second-half defense made the difference as GU improved to 23-1 overall and 12-0 in the West Coast Conference.
The Zags seemed in complete control midway in the second quarter when Jill Townsend – wearing a face mask in the wake of a collision last weekend – hit a turnaround jumper to put GU ahead 35-16.
Despite losing Jenn Wirth to two early fouls, Gonzaga shot 61% (11-for-16) in the first half, compared to just 6-for-17 for the Tigers.
But instead of throwing in the towel, Pacific threw up four successful 3-point shots to reach halftime trailing only 42-38.
“We just didn’t defend that well in the first half,” Fortier said.
GU made five of its first six shots in the second half, but didn’t allow Pacific (13-13, 6-6) to match the pace. The Tigers made just 4 of 14 shots and didn’t get off a single 3-point shot.
“We did a really good job of knowing our matchups, not losing the shooters, not overcrowding drivers and doing what we do defensively, which is sticking together and playing team defense,” Fortier said.
Midway through the third quarter, GU was up 57-42, and LeeAnne Wirth capped the period with a 3-pointer that made it 63-45.
Townsend led the way with 17 points on 8-for-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds.
LeeAnne Wirth had 12 points and seven boards, while Jenn Wirth overcame her early foul trouble to finish with a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.
Junior guard Louise Forsyth came off the bench to play one of the best games of her career: 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting, including a trio of 3-pointers.
The Zags are at Saint Mary’s on Saturday. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.
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