Thanks to another big third quarter, the Gonzaga women earned another road sweep in Southern California on Saturday.
Leading Pepperdine by just three points at halftime, Jill Townsend and the 13th-ranked Zags pulled away to a 64-50 West Coast Conference victory in Malibu, California.
With the win, GU is 27-2 overall and 16-1 going into the West Coast Conference regular-season finale next week at Portland.
Win that one plus the WCC Tournament, and the Zags would certainly host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games at the Kennel.
This road trip, however, was tougher than usual.
It’s been 11 years since the Zags have dropped a WCC game in L.A., but GU struggled in the first halves of both games this year.
At LMU on Thursday night, the Zags broke a 30-all halftime tie thanks to Townsend’s 12 second-half points.
On Saturday, they did even better.
The Zags overcame poor shooting, nine turnovers and two early fouls on Townsend to take a slim 26-23 halftime lead.
GU led most of the half, twice by five points. Tied 12-all after one quarter, GU opened the second with a 5-0 run, and went up 19-14 with 4 minutes left in the half.
By then Townsend was on the bench with her second foul, and she went into the locker room without a point.
Then just as she did two days earlier at Loyola Marymount, she took over in the third quarter despite picking up her third foul as the half began.
Coming off an 18-point game at LMU, Townsend drove for two early layins – the second one in heavy traffic – giving GU a 32-25 lead.
Kaylynne Truong’s 3-pointer made it 37-25. Townsend capped a huge third quarter with a pair of 3s, giving GU a commanding 45-30 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Pepperdine (14-12, 8-8) got no closer than nine points, late in the fourth quarter.
Townsend finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Jenn Wirth added seven points and 10 boards, while Melody Kempton came off the bench for 12 points and nine boards.
Not as dominant as in their 70-36 win in Spokane last month, the Zags still outrebounded the Waves 50-41.
For the game, GU shot far better from outside the arc (8 for 15: 53%) than inside (15 for 43: 35%).
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