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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Gonzaga women continue nonconference schedule against Southern Utah

Nov. 11, 2022 Updated Fri., Nov. 11, 2022 at 8:05 p.m.

Gonzaga forward Yvonne Ejim, left, defends against Long Beach State guard Courtney Murphy during the second half Thursday at McCarthey Athletic Center.  (James Snook/For The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Yvonne Ejim, left, defends against Long Beach State guard Courtney Murphy during the second half Thursday at McCarthey Athletic Center. (James Snook/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Even after a 26-point win over a solid team, Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier saw plenty of room for improvement Thursday night.

More consistent rebounding and backside help on defense were at the top of the list after an 80-54 nonconference win over Long Beach State in the season opener.

The Zags also committed 21 turnovers, but senior guard Kaylynne Truong said that wasn’t shocking, considering it was the first game of the season and GU was facing a press and 1-3-1 zone defense.

“So I’m pleased,” said Truong, who had six of the Zags’ 19 assists.

In the halfcourt, GU’s high-low offense worked to perfection – a major worry for Southern Utah, which visits the Kennel on Saturday afternoon.

“We have a lot of players who can make shots and we just wanted to find the open one,” Fortier said.

Mostly that was forward Yvonne Ejim, whose 22 points and 10 rebounds were both game highs.

Asked whether she can expect those kinds of numbers from Ejim every week, Fortier deflected.

“You can’t put that kind of pressure on somebody, but I think she’s lucky,” Fortier said. “She has great teammates, and that allows her to do what she does.”

Southern Utah is coming off a 102-60 win Wednesday night over Benedictine University of Arizona, but a better barometer is the Thunderbirds’ effort against New Mexico two days earlier.

Double-doubles from Tomekia Whitman and Lizzy Williamson lifted the Thunderbirds past the Lobos 76-68 in their season opener.

The win was the Thunderbirds’ first over a Mountain West program since 2018.

“I’m very proud of this group,” coach Tracy Sanders said. “It has been a long stretch of us playing against each other, and we were excited to come out here and open things up at home.”

Whitman, a transfer from Idaho State, had a team-high 20 points with 12 rebounds against the Lobos.

Williamson was a force in the paint all night, scoring 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting with 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Last year, the Thunderbirds went 18-12 overall and 14-6 in the Big Sky Conference. They’ve moved to the tougher Western Athletic Conference, where they are picked to finish sixth.

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