Gonzaga women travel to California to take on UC Davis, anticipating slow pace and defensive battle
Dec. 17, 2021 Updated Sat., Dec. 18, 2021 at 5:03 p.m.
Gonzaga’s Melody Kempton, left, and Yvonne Ejim team up to deny Stephan F. Austin’s Stephanie Visscher a lay-in in their nonconference matchup last Sunday. (JESSE TINSLEY)
If statistics are any indication, the Gonzaga women will be in for a grind Sunday afternoon at UC Davis.
Ten games into the season, the Zags (8-2) are carving out an identity. They’re holding opponents to less than 54 points a game, which ranks 24th in the nation; and they’re dominating on the boards: plus 11.6 so far.
Yet a far more obscure stat is even more revealing.
Out of 356 teams in Division 1, GU ranks 352nd in possessions per 40 minutes. That’s another way of saying that the Zags and their opponents are playing some tough defense at one end of the court and playing deliberately at the other.
GU has typically ranked low in the possession category – not a bad thing when those passes lead to a bucket; Washington State does the same thing, and the result was a low-scoring Cougars win last week.
Expect more of the same on Sunday, when the Aggies (5-4) host GU in a contest that tips off at 2 p.m.
Davis ranks 324th in possessions per game, with plenty of low-scoring games to match. On Wednesday, the Aggies held No. 3 Stanford to 68 points, but got only 42 themselves.
Davis also lost at home to WSU 71-49 on Dec. 4, just four days before the Cougars edged Gonzaga 51-49 in the Kennel.
Gonzaga is coming off Sunday’s game against Stephen F. Austin in which the offenses struggled. The Zags prevailed 64-54 on the strength of 11 blocked shots and another dominant effort of the boards.
“That’s what we have to do in those games, be strong on the boards,” said senior post Anamaria Virjoghe, who had 13 rebounds and four blocks against the Ladyjacks.
Like the Zags, UC Davis is balanced on offense. Senior forward Cierra Hall is the only Aggie to averaging double-figure scoring, with 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Guard Evanne Turner averages 9.6 ppg and forward Kayla Konrad nine ppg.
Gonzaga is led by point guard Kaylynne Truong, who is started four straight games at the point after twin sister Kayleigh suffered a knee injury two weeks ago in Hawaii.
Kayleigh Truong saw limited action against WSU but sat out on Sunday.
Against Stephen F. Austin, Kaylynne Truong scored 18 points while going 5 for 10 from the field.
Following Sunday’s game, the Zags close out nonconference action at Eastern Washington on Tuesday night. They open West Coast Conference play against San Francisco on Dec. 30.
That same night, Gonzaga will retire the jersey number of former All-American Courtney Vandersloot.
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