PROVO, Utah – The big game all but won, Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier was still looking at the little things.
On Thursday night at BYU, the Zags were up by a dozen with a minute left when one of Fortier’s players whipped a baseline pass that went out of bounds.
Fortier was livid.
“When have we ever thrown that pass? Never!” Fortier said to no one in particular.
But she said it with a smile.
By then, everyone was grinning as Gonzaga wrapped up a 55-43 win at the Marriott Center, where a year ago the best start in program history ended with a two-point loss.
Not this time, as the 17th-ranked Zags played one of their most complete games of the season to improve to 13-1 overall and 2-0 in the West Coast Conference.
GU’s defense suffocated BYU’s guards while committing only 10 fouls on the game, held the Cougars to 33% shooting for the game and held their own on the boards.
While the GU bigs struggled to shoot against 6-foot-7 Sara Hamson, they also didn’t back down from the challenge. Hamson had four blocks, roughly her average, but only one point and five boards – one fewer than 5-10 GU guard Katie Campbell.
“The bigs and the coaches talked about helping rebound,” said Campbell, who also hit 3 of 4 long-range shots to move into second nationally in 3-point shooting at 51.6%.
Help also came from the bench, and not just from the usual suspects. Louise Forsyth hit an early 3 and logged 9 minutes, and Kaylynne Truong was on the court for almost 7 minutes.
Given the importance of the game and the 4,500-foot elevation in Provo, that meant a lot in helping GU win its 11th straight.
“We wanted to be our best today, for sure,” Fortier said.
But after winning 10 of the last 11 WCC regular-season titles, the Zags are accustomed to getting everyone else’s best effort.
The challenge continues Saturday at San Diego, one of the league’s surprise teams. Returning four starters from a team that went 9-21 last year (2-16 in the WCC), the Toreros are 8-6.
They’re also 2-1 in the WCC after dispatching a Portland team that almost upset the Zags on Sunday.
San Diego beat the Pilots 74-55 Thursday night thanks to a remarkable performance from senior Madison Pollock, who shot 10 for 12 from the field. She also had six assists.
Pollock is averaging 12.4 points, just behind the 12.6 ppg of junior Myah Pace.
GU is back home next week against Saint Mary’s and Pacific.
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