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Sports >  Gonzaga women

Gonzaga women start strong, roll Long Beach State 80-54 in season-opener

Nov. 10, 2022 Updated Thu., Nov. 10, 2022 at 10:07 p.m.

By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Gonzaga launched its new season with jet fuel Thursday night.

The Zags scored 28 points in the first 10 minutes on the way to an 80-54 nonconference win over Long Beach State at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

“We spent a lot of time working against their pressure and their one,” coach Lisa Fortier said. “We wanted to make easy plays and find the open players.”

Along the way, the Zags got 48 points from the three starters who will probably carry them this season: guards Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong and forward Yvonne Ejim, who had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

GU dominated all phases of the game, shooting 43% from long range and outrebounding the visitors 38-21. The Zags, however, had 21 turnovers, one fewer than Long Beach.

The Zags had struggled in the early going in last week’s exhibition win over Western Washington.

Not this time; in a sublime first quarter, they hit 10 of 15 shots and combined for nine assists.

Gonzaga led 28-16 after the first quarter and by 22 points midway through the second quarter before the Beach rallied thanks to some sloppy play by the Zags.

GU had six turnovers in the first quarter and nine more in the second, though Long Beach also had 15 for the half.

Long Beach shot 50% from the field (11 for 22) in the first half, but GU was even better at 54% (14 for 26). The Zags also had a 16-6 advantage on the boards.

In the third quarter, Long Beach briefly got within 10 points and had a chance to get even closer, but Ejim answered the challenge with three straight contested layups to give GU a 48-32 advantage.

“I thought we did a good job of getting recomposed,” Fortier said.

The GU lead was down to 54-41 going into the third quarter. Utah transfer Brynna Maxwell jump-started the flagging Zags with a 3-pointer and foul shot in the first 16 seconds of the quarter to push the lead to 17.

Maxwell finished with 14 points while hitting 3 of 5 shots from long range.

Down the stretch, each Long Beach challenge was answered by Ejim, Maxwell and the Truongs as the Zags never led by fewer than 15 points in the fourth

The outcome was beyond doubt when Kayleigh Truong drained a long 3 to give GU a 69-47 advantage with 7 minutes left. At that point, Ejim and the Truongs had combined for 48 of the Zags’ 69 points. The Truong sisters each had six assists, and the Zags had 19 overall.

Kristyna Jeskeova and Tori Harris led the Beach with 12 points each, but the Beach made just 5 of 17 shots from beyond the arc.

LBSU is picked to finish third in the Big West Conference behind Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara.

On Saturday, the Zags will play Southern Utah, which is 2-0 after wins this week over New Mexico and Benedictine University of Arizona. GU’s first road game of the season is Tuesday at Wyoming.

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