During her pregame routine Saturday, Jill Townsend concluded that it probably wasn’t going to be her day.
She couldn’t make anything, she said, and started telling teammates, “I’m not shooting today.”
But once the game started, the narrative – and her success rate – changed considerably.
“Sometimes when you can’t make in warmups, that’s when it’s, like, ‘I’ll save it for the game, I guess,’ ” Townsend said. “And I guess that just happened today.”
On an afternoon when the Bulldogs struggled with turnovers, the junior Townsend had a career day, posting personal bests in points (28) and 3-pointers made (6 of 8 attempts) as the No. 13 Gonzaga women’s basketball team improved to 20-1 overall with a 78-52 victory over Loyola Marymount at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“I can’t even remember half the 3s I took, but I just know they went in,” Townsend said. “It’s just one of those (games), and it was a lot of fun.”
The Bulldogs are 9-0 in West Coast Conference play and extended their nation-best winning streak to 18 games.
Gonzaga played without junior LeeAnne Wirth and freshman Kayleigh Truong for the second game in a row but led almost the entire way, despite committing 18 turnovers, 12 of which came before halftime.
But the Bulldogs held the Lions to 26.7% shooting in the first half, during which they built a 35-26 lead. Townsend had 14 points by then, including four of her 3-pointers.
The Lions (7-15, 3-6) never got closer than seven points the rest of the way and finished 17 of 56 from the field (30.4%). Junior Chelsey Gipson led the Lions with 14 points, while Mt. Spokane graduate Aspyn Adams, a freshman at LMU, scored one point in 30 minutes of play.
LMU dealt with foul trouble, specifically in the frontcourt. Senior Raychel Stanley and junior Jasmine Jones both finished with four fouls and combined for just 11 points, half their combined season average.
“They change defenses to keep you off guard, and they coach their players to be physical around the basket,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “They’re strong, so we expected that physicality.”
But with Stanley and Jones limited by fouls, that made it easier for the Bulldogs to get points inside. Junior Jenn Wirth finished with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Her presence in the paint opened up Gonzaga’s perimeter shooting, too, and the Bulldogs made a season-high 11 of their 19 3-point attempts.
Junior Louise Forsyth hit three of those in succession as she led a fourth-quarter bench charge that extended Gonzaga’s lead to as many as 28 points.
“It’s really fun,” Forsyth said. “It’s fun to be out there and to do my role, and then when I have my open 3s just being able to knock them down.”
Townsend’s 28 points were the most by a Bulldogs player since Zykera Rice had 28 on Jan. 12, 2019.
“She’s the kind of person who’s used to those kind of big moments and carrying a lion’s share of the load,” Fortier said of Townsend. “She used to do that in high school. … It’s kind of how it’s always been for her.”
Gonzaga concludes a four-game homestand against San Diego on Thursday and BYU on Feb. 1.
Bulldogs wear neon green for Day
Gonzaga wore neon green ribbons to show support for Katie Day, a Gonzaga tennis player recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Fortier said.
“The entire athletic community here at GU’s been affected and thinking of her, and so we know how much of a positive and strong person she is,” Townsend said of Day. “We’re just all pulling for her, and to go out there and just recognize her and bring awareness to what’s happening to her for this entire gym and all the fans, it’s important to us.”
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