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Sports >  Gonzaga women

Gonzaga women open Hawaii tournament against unbeaten Utah

Nov. 24, 2021 Updated Wed., Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:20 p.m.

Junior guard Kaylynne Truong leads Gonzaga’s balanced scoring attack with 11.3 points per game.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Junior guard Kaylynne Truong leads Gonzaga’s balanced scoring attack with 11.3 points per game. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The Utah women’s basketball team has some gaudy stats to go along with its 4-0 record.

Going into Friday’s game against Gonzaga, the Utes are winning by an average of almost 40 points while outrebounding opponents by 20 per game and shooting almost 50% from the field.

Even more startling, Utah is averaging almost 23 assists a game, the top mark in the country.

The experts, however, aren’t impressed. For one thing, those wins – all at home – have come against Lipscomb, Xavier, Saint Mary’s and Cincinnati.

Also, the Utes are coming off another tough season (5-16 overall and 4-15 in the Pacific-12 Conference).

Utah has six players back from last year, but is picked for a 10th-place finish in the Pac-12.

Gonzaga will play the Utes at 2 p.m. in the first game of Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Manoa, Hawaii. The Zags will play Eastern Illinois (4-0) on Saturday and host Hawaii (2-2) on Sunday.

The Zags also had some good stats after sweeping Montana State, Montana and Idaho State; they’re 3-1 after a 66-62 home loss Sunday to seventh-ranked Stanford.

“It’s not the end of the world every time you lose a game,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said. “You can be mad and also learn from it.”

Fortier also said there could be “some things that will change” in upcoming games.

Through four games, the Zags are shooting 45% from the field and 34% from 3-point range. They’re also dominating on the boards with a plus-nine average.

They are holding opponents to 34% shooting and just 23% from beyond the arc. GU has 10 steals per game.

The Zags are showing remarkable balance, with four players averaging at least 10 points, but none more than Kaylynne Truong’s 11.3 per game.

Like Truong, second-leading scorer Yvonne Ejim (10.8 ppg) comes off the bench.

Senior starters Anamaria Virjoghe and Abby O’Connor are averaging a combined 6.5 ppg while playing the same minutes as Truong and Ejim.

With three games in three days, expect more minutes for the backups, including five-star recruit Bree Salenbien, who is averaging 2½ minutes backing up O’Connor.

Utah is led by guard Brynna Maxwell, a junior from Gig Harbor, Washington, who is averaging 16.5 points. Also averaging double figures are Jenna Johnson (14.5 ppg) and Kennedy McQueen (12 ppg).

The Utes get 51 rebounds a game, with no one averaging more than 6.5.

Utah is coming off a 78-45 victory against Cincinnati that saw the hosts pull down 59 boards and hold the Bearcats to 29% shooting.

“Every day we’ve emphasized rebounding,” said Utah coach Lynne Roberts, in her seventh season. “I don’t care who we play, and it’s something we want to do well in. I start every practice with a rebounding drill. I think our girls have done an amazing job at buying in and emphasizing how critical rebounding is. We’re going to emphasize rebounding.”

The Zags are back home Dec. 3 against Wyoming.

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