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Eastern Washington University Basketball

Gonzaga women end nonconference slate with win against Eastern Washington 76-48

There would be no third-quarter letdown this time for the Gonzaga women.

It was quite the opposite Tuesday night in Cheney, where the Zags utterly dominated after halftime in a 76-48 nonconference win over Eastern Washington.

“The biggest thing we did was make them go to their weak hand,” coach Lisa Fortier said after the Zags improved to 9-3 going into next week’s West Coast Conference opener against San Francisco.

“What we’ve been trying to do is making drivers shoot and shooters drive,” Fortier said. “It wasn’t that way in the first half, but in the third quarter we did a good job.”

The Zags were two days removed from a 69-66 loss at UC Davis, the second time this season that they’d paid the price for blowing a double-digit lead after halftime.

On Tuesday, the halftime lead was only 33-24, but Gonzaga scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to force an Eastern timeout.

It didn’t matter. Late in the third quarter, GU was up 57-33 and cruising into a nine-day holiday break.

“Gonzaga came out and took it to us, and I think they were bound and determined not to do that,” Eastern coach Joddie Gleason said after the Eagles fell to 2-8.

In the third quarter alone, GU outscored the Eagles 31-9, beat them 13-4 on the boards, made 10 of 16 shots and came away with five steals.

More important, they came away with a win.

Fortier acknowledged that she’d hoped for better than 9-3 at this juncture, but shrugged and said all that matters “is getting better.”

The Zags again dominated in the paint, where they outscored the Eagles 38-20.

Senior Melody Kempton had 13 points and eight boards, both game highs, while Yvonne Ejim had 12 points off the bench and made all six of her shots.

Anamaria Virjoghe also had eight rebounds.

Kaylynne Truong, starting at the point, had seven points and seven assists.

The win was GU’s fourth in as many tries against teams from the Big Sky Conference. The Zags opened the year by beating Montana State, Montana and Idaho State.

The first half was full of statistical oddities.

Gonzaga launched 10 long-range shots in the first 7½ minutes; at that rate, the Zags would have put up at least 50 for the game.

Meanwhile, Eastern made four of its 14 long-range shots, but also put up five airballs in the first 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, neither team attempted a foul shot in the first half.

Finally, the prettiest play of the first half – Kayleigh Truong’s behind-the-back pass to set up Ejim’s 15-foot jumper – was negated during halftime as officials deemed the shot didn’t beat the shot clock.

More concerning to GU was the halftime score, a less-than comfortable 33-24 lead for the visitors.

They prospered inside, however. Kempton and Ejim combined for 18 points, making a combined 9 of 10 shots.

Eastern was led by freshman guard Jaydia Martin, who had 12 points.

The Eagles were coming off an encouraging weekend in Seattle, where they lost to Washington by three points and Nevada by 11.

“Playing all these tough teams will only help us in the long run,” Gleason said.

The Eagles’ next game is Dec. 30 against Big Sky rival Portland State.

Jim Allen can be reached at (509) 459-5437 or by email at