Even after a career scoring night Monday, there was no false modesty from Jenn Wirth.
Wirth not only said the right things, she meant them.
“My team had my back tonight for sure,” the senior forward said after scoring 26 points in No. 21 Gonzaga’s 79-59 home victory over Pacific.
Wirth gave due credit to the Zags’ outside shooting that eased her burden in the paint, the stellar passing of guard Kaylynne Truong and another strong defensive game by everybody else.
But she had their backs too, hitting 11 of 14 shots from the field in one of the most dominant performances in recent Gonzaga history.
Her points came from all over the court, off the break and off the glass, and their timing couldn’t have been much better as the Zags improved to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the West Coast Conference.
There was the early rebound and putback – plus one – that gave GU an early 7-2 lead; a layup midway through the second quarter that put GU in control 37-23; and a pair of rally-crushing buckets late in the third.
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, GU was up by 14 and the only question was whether Wirth would break her career best of 24, which came almost a year ago in the Kennel against Pacific.
The other question: Did she really care?
“I try not to think about that – just focus on the game,” said Wirth, who had 22 points after three quarters but began the fourth on the bench.
Coach Lisa Fortier didn’t even know that Wirth was close to a personal best. However, foul trouble for the other GU bigs put Wirth back on the court.
Midway through the quarter, Truong found her underneath for an easy layin and her 24th point.
Finally, with 1:43 left, Wirth converted Truong’s ninth assist of the night, breaking her career mark.
“Lynne really killed it tonight,” Wirth said. “She was making all the right reads.”
Wirth also had seven rebounds, ending her streak of double-doubles at three, but helping Gonzaga win its 21st straight home game.
In contrast to Saturday’s 69-37 win over Saint Mary’s, the Zags played offense as well as they played defense in a fast-paced first half.
Wirth made an impact in the first two minutes, rebounding a fast-break lay-in miss by Jill Townsend, making the lay-in and a foul shot. Seconds later, Walker drained her first 3-pointer and it was 7-2.
Pacific cut the lead to 10-9, but the Zags led 22-16 after the first on Cierra Walker’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
By halftime, Wirth was 6-for-7, with 16 points and 5 rebounds in just 12 minutes on the court.
However, the Zags struggled on offense in the third quarter; 7 minutes in, they had just 2 points. However, Pacific managed just 4 to that point.
Leading 54-39 going into the fourth , GU put up the first 6 points of the quarter to go up by 20 and coast to an easy win.
The Tigers (3-2) got 11 points from all-conference guard Val Higgins, but that was well below her average of 18, and she needed 36 minutes to get them.
Gonzaga barely won the battle on the boards, 34 to 29, but shot 55% from the field and 43% (8-for-19) from long range.
The Zags got 11 points each from Walker – who made 3 of 6 long-range shots – and Melody Kempton.
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