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Gonzaga Women's Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga women

‘We have moved past the time for moral victories’: Gonzaga women drop narrow loss to No. 7 Stanford

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 21, 2021

Former Central Valley High School basketball stars, Lacie and Lexie Hull take the court for Stanford.

Moments after saying that there are no moral victories, Lisa Fortier and her players still found some consolation after a tough 66-62 loss to Stanford on Sunday afternoon.

Against the defending NCAA champion and No. 7 team in the country, the Zags showed toughness in the paint, grittiness on defense and resilience when the Cardinal threatened to pull away in the second half.

“We have moved past the time for moral victories,” Fortier said. “We’re too good. We can compete with the best teams in the country, we are among the best teams in the country.”

All they needed was to hit a few more open shots, especially with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.

Instead, the Zags lost their first home game since February 2019.

While Stanford left the door open with an abysmal (8-for-18) effort at the foul line, the Zags (3-1) couldn’t take advantage and dropped their first game of the season.

With 16 seconds left, senior guard Cierra Walker drained 3-pointer to cut Stanford’s lead to 63-62.

Fouled almost immediately, Anna Wilson made a free throw for Stanford, setting up a dramatic finish in a packed Kennel.

GU guard Kaylynne Truong quickly found an open look, but missed a 3-point attempt that would have given the Zags the lead.

Instead, Spokane Valley product Lexie Hull made two clinching free throws with 2.7 seconds as her parents and friends cheered from behind the Stanford bench.

Hull finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Her twin sister Lacie, also a starter for the Cardinal, had 6 points and seven assists.

Gonzaga led by as many as 15 points midway through the second quarter. However, the Zags made only 8 of 27 shots in the second half, while Stanford went 13-for-28.

“We just need to shoot it better against good teams,” said Fortier, whose starters were a combined 10-for-34 from the field.

The lone standout was senior forward Melody Kempton, who battled on even terms inside with the taller Cardinal. Kempton made 6 of 11 shots, finishing with a game-high 16 points and five rebounds.

The Zags also got a boost off the bench from sophomores Yvonne Ejim (11 points and 6 boards) and Eliza Hollingsworth (12 points in 11 minutes).

“Eliza, she rally gave us a boost,” Fortier said. “She just has to work on the physicality part of the game.”

The Zags held their own on the boards, getting outrebounded 36 to 31. They also forced 13 turnovers and had eight steals. However, they were outscored 36 to 22 in the paint

The win spoiled an exceptional day at the foul line for the Zags, who made 17 of 19 attempts.

Stanford leading scorer and rebounder Haley Jones, who had a triple-double in the previous game, did not play because of an injury, Coach Tara VanDerveer said.

After a slow start for both teams, the Zags went on an 11-4 run capped by Kaylynne’s Truong’s 3 to take an 18-12 lead.

Eliza Hollingsworth hit a 3 late in the quarter, which ended with GU up 23-13.

The Zags took their biggest lead of the afternoon, 31-18, when Meloly Kempton drained two foul shots midway through the second quarter.

The Zags were doing everything right to that point: shooting 50% (11-for-22) from the field, 2-for-5 from long range, 7-for-8 from the foul line and outrebounding the Cardinal 12-10.

The game changed abruptly with the appearance of Stanford guard Hannah Jump, who drained a pair of long shots to trim the led to 33-24.

Ashten Prechtel hit from 3 at the halftime buzzer to cut the GU lead to 35-32.

“We did know that Prechtel and Jump were shooters,” Fortier said

Gonzaga opened the second half by forcing a 10-second violation and a 3-pointer from Cierra Walker.

However, Jump tacked on two more 3s to give the Cardinal its first lead since early in the opening quarter, 42-40.

“We battled and it was exciting to see our team be down and come back,” VanDerveer said. “I credit Gonzaga. They played really well and really hard.”

Jump and Francesca Belibi came off the bench to score 14 points each for Stanford, which led by as many as 6 points in the third quarter.

Both teams are headed for warmer weather. Gonzaga will play Utah on Friday in the Rainbow Wahine Showcase, followed by games against Eastern Illinois and host Hawaii.

Stanford will play in the Bahamas against Indiana, South Florida and Maryland.

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