It’s been four years since the Gonzaga women lost back-to-back games in the West Coast Conference, and that streak will continue after the Zags won 69-47 on Saturday at San Diego.
The 16th-ranked Zags were coming off a loss at BYU Thursday night that ended a 17-game winning streak along with any chance of going undefeated in WCC play.
“It was definitely a response,” GU senior forward Jill Townsend said after the game.
“We weren’t happy with how we played on Thursday, and we wanted to come here and prove to the rest of the WCC that that wasn’t going to happen again.”
The Zags started quickly and finished strongly. They led 23-10 after one quarter and by as many as 19 late in the first half.
A short-handed San Diego team got to within eight points before the Zags pulled away in the fourth quarter.
With two games left in the regular season, Gonzaga is 19-3 overall and 14-1 in the WCC – one game ahead of BYU, which beat Portland 75-68 earlier Saturday.
Chasing a fifth consecutive regular-season title, Gonzaga closes out the regular season at home next week against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.
BYU is at San Francisco and Saint Mary’s.
Gonzaga led by 13 points after one quarter thanks in part to a stellar effort from Townsend.
Held to a season-low three points at BYU, Townsend had 12 in the first quarter while making 5 of 8 shots and 2 of 3 from long range.
Townsend finished with a game-high 16 points.
The lead grew to 31-12 late in the second quarter, but San Diego closed to 36-22 at halftime.
The third-place Toreros (12-6, 9-4) played without starter Jordyn Edwards for undisclosed reasons. Starter Kendall Bird was injured and didn’t return after playing 5 minutes.
Still with an outside chance to win the title, the Toreros cut GU’s lead to 42-34 with almost 4 minutes left in the third quarter.
San Diego had a chance to get closer following a GU turnover. After a GU timeout, the Zags forced a miss and LeeAnne Wirth fed sister Jenn for a layin.
Abby O’Connor followed with a block at one end of the court and a 3-pointer at the other to make it 47-34.
GU led by double digits the rest of the way to take its 10th straight over the Toreros.
The Zags shot 45% (27 for 60) from the field and held San Diego to 27% (14 for 51).
They also took care of the ball. GU had 17 assists – five from LeeAnne Wirth – and gave up just seven steals against a team that ranks second in Division 1 with 14 per game.
“I thought we were moving the ball well and finding open players, and we locked down on defense,” Townsend said.
Jenn Wirth had six points and 12 rebounds and is two points shy of reaching 1,000 for her career.
Steph Gorman had 13 points for the Toreros (12-6, 9-4) and Myah Pace added 11.
San Diego, which allows 58.5 points and is second in the nation with 14.1 steals a game, only forced Gonzaga into 14 turnovers, seven of them steals.
The Bulldogs, who allow 56.5 points, had 11 steals among their 18 forced turnovers. They also held the Toreros to 27.5% shooting (14 of 51). It was their lowest scoring game since shooting 27.1% in a conference opening loss.
Gonzaga closes out the regular season with two home games, beginning Thursday against Pepperdine. San Diego is home against Pepperdine on Monday.
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