Eight players were more than enough for Gonzaga to take a memorable win Thursday night at Stephen F. Austin.
With her injured twin sister and dozens of family and friends in the stands, senior Kaylynne Truong played almost the entire game and scored 21 points to lead the Zags to a 71-59 nonconference win in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Even more remarkably, the 23rd-ranked Zags never let Stephen F. Austin get closer than four points in the fourth quarter as GU improved to 7-1.
“I’m really proud of our team’s effort,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said. “We came down here and played a really good team in a rough situation.”
Already without Kayleigh Truong and backup forward Maud Huijbens, the Zags lost starting forward Eliza Hollingsworth to illness.
In her place, redshirt freshman Calli Stokes got her first collegiate start and finished with eight points and four rebounds while playing 26 minutes. All were career highs.
Not surprisingly, the biggest contributors were Truong and Yvonne Ejim. Truong made half of her 10 shots from long range and dished out seven assists. Ejim finished with 19 points and a game-high nine rebounds despite playing most of the game with three fouls.
Ejim also jump-started the Zags to their best first quarter of the season .
Making their first six shots, the Zags took leads of 9-0 and 17-1. Ejim did most of the damage, outscoring the Ladyjacks 11-9 by herself.
SFA missed its first 11 shots to trail 25-9 going into the second quarter. The Ladyjacks (5-2) outscored GU 14-2 over the next 3 minutes to trail only 27-23.
Ejim picked up her third foul a few minutes later and sat the rest of the half, but the rest of the Zags picked up the slack. GU led 36-29 at halftime.
“Our players played extremely tough, and they went possession by possession,” Fortier said. “We started the game great, and then we continued to build on that.”
Back on the court to start the third quarter, Ejim scored two quick buckets to restore the double-digit lead. Stephen F. Austin cut the lead to 42-39 late in the quarter, but GU responded and was up 10 after Truong’s 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
The Ladyjacks got with four with almost 8 minutes left, but Brynna Maxwell had a three-point play and Truong added another 3-pointer to help push the lead back to 10.
Maxwell, who ranks seventh in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage at 56.2%, went 4 for 9 from distance and finished with 13 points.
The Zags will spend an extra day in Nacogdoches then fly to the Bay Area on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s game at second-ranked Stanford.
GU is back home Tuesday to play Queens University of Charlotte (North Carolina). Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
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