Now that Yvonne Ejim and Kaylynne Truong are in the starting lineup, who will provide that spark off the bench this year for the Gonzaga women?
That question was answered 7 minutes into Friday’s exhibition against Western Washington.
Brynna Maxwell entered the game for the Bulldogs and drained a long 3-pointer to tie the game. Then she thumped her chest and the crowd cheered as the Zags went on to win by 42, including 14 points from Maxwell.
That was no surprise to Maxwell’s coaches and teammates, who’ve spent weeks getting to know the graduate transfer from Utah.
“Brynna gets after it with that intensity she brings to the court,” Ejim said after the game.
And not just on the court.
“Brynna has an incredible competitiveness,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said before a recent practice.
“We play a lot of ‘Family Feud’ and a lot of other games, and she’s actually angry when she doesn’t win.”
“I don’t even like it if someone is ahead of me at the airport,” Maxwell said. “I have to get ahead of them.”
That attitude helped carry Maxwell and her Utah teammates to surprising success last year. Picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12, the Utes went 21-12 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Maxwell was a big part of that success, averaging 10.6 points and shooting 38% from long range last year.
“It was special for sure,” Maxwell said. “We had circled going to the NCAAs – that was a goal for our team. It was a special year.”
She entered the transfer portal for several reasons, including a chance to be closer to her family in Gig Harbor, Washington. She also has a grandmother who lives in Spokane.
“She was so happy when I decided to transfer to Gonzaga,” Maxwell said. “And Gonzaga has such a good program – I love the atmosphere here.”
Maxwell was on Gonzaga’s radar in high school, when she was the 3A state player of the year as a senior at Gig Harbor High School and led the team to a state title.
Along the way, Maxwell averaged 27.7 points in state tournaments and was a four-star recruit. At Utah, she was a two-time All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection and made the all-freshman team.
Maxwell had a career-high performance against Oregon State in 2020 with 34 points. She averaged 12 points and 25.6 minutes a game for the Utes. She also had 66 steals and 93 assists while grabbing 269 rebounds in her three-year career at Utah.
Most important, Maxwell ranks third in Utah history in made 3-pointers, with 83. The Zags lost guard Cierra Walker to graduation and needed a shooter.
“I’m more of a shooter,” said Maxwell, who has two years of eligibility remaining. “But I also have a lot of experience playing at the big-school level,” Maxwell said.
Going into the exhibition, it was unclear whether Maxwell would start – she can play guard or wing – or whether she would come off the bench.
And at 6-foot , she’s also a threat to post up or drive.
“She’s tall for a guard, and she’s trying in every drill to get to that basket and make that shot,” Fortier said.
Whether starting or coming off the bench, Maxwell will be the Zags’ biggest outside scoring threat.
“We can rely on her and she can rely on us,” Ejim said.