Gonzaga needed less than a minute to turn a one-possession lead in the fourth quarter into a comfortable double-digit margin on Saturday.
Twin sisters Kayleigh Truong and Kaylynne Truong scored 14 points apiece, and the Bulldogs pulled away late for a 66-53 win over Saint Mary’s in a West Coast Conference women’s basketball game in Moraga, California.
Gonzaga (14-4, 5-0 WCC) kept pace with fellow front-runner BYU – a 74-63 winner at San Diego – atop the conference standings.
The host Gaels (9-7, 3-2) closed within 45-42 on a Madeline Holland layup with a little over 7 minutes remaining in the game, but Cierra Walker answered with a 3-pointer to push GU’s lead to 48-42 with 6:57 left.
After Yvonne Ejim made two free throws to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 50-42, Walker forced a turnover. Ejim was fouled finishing at the rim on the ensuing break, and her three-point play gave Gonzaga a 53-42 cushion with 6:02 remaining.
The Gaels got no closer than eight points (57-49) the rest of the way.
“That game was a battle,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said.
“They are a very dynamic offensive team and can score a lot of points in a hurry. We were prepared to grind away from the inside or the outside or wherever we could find success. We talked about how critical each player’s contributions would be in that game, and they really were important.”
Ejim finished with 13 points . Melody Kempton added 10 rebounds.
GU enjoyed a 45-33 rebounding edge, but the Bulldogs’ most noteworthy advantage was at the foul line. GU made 18 of 22 attempts, and the Gaels’ Ali Bamberger took all seven of her team’s free throws, making five.
Bamberger paced Saint Mary’s with 22 points and eight rebounds. Holland added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Kayleigh Truong scored seven points in the first 10 minutes to help GU take an 18-17 lead into the second quarter. Kaylynne scored five points in the second quarter to contribute to a 29-25 lead at halftime.
Gonzaga heads to Malibu, California, on Thursday to play Pepperdine at 7 p.m.