The Gonzaga women could only handle so much adversity, and it caught up with them on Sunday.
One day after earning the biggest wins in program history, the Zags ran out of steam in the semifinals of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis.
“We were prepared, but it wasn’t our best shot,” guard Kaylynne Truong said after the Zags’ first loss of the season, 70-66 to Marquette in the Bahamas.
The Zags missed their last 10 shots from the field and so missed out on a chance to play UCLA in Monday’s title game. Instead they will face 11th-ranked Tennessee in the third-place game at 11:30 a.m. Pacific on Monday.
Back on the court barely 18 hours after knocking off No. 6 Louisville, the Zags also had to play without starting point guard Kayleigh Truong after she suffered a sprained ankle late in Saturday’s game.
“It was difficult,” said junior forward Eliza Hollingsworth, who had 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. “There was a lot of emotion. … but we battled.”
In a game that featured five ties and seven lead changes, the Zags (4-1) were in contention until the final seconds.
GU tied the game on a pair of foul shots by Yvonne Ejim with one minute, 28 seconds left, but Marquette’s Chloe Marotta answered 22 seconds later with a layin and foul shot.
Brynna Maxwell and McKayla Williams missed 3-pointers on the Zags’ next possession.
Maxwell’s two free throws cut the lead to 67-66 with 25 seconds left, but Marquette (5-0) answered at the other end. GU still had a chance at overtime, but Maxwell missed another long shot with 9 seconds left.
“We didn’t want to give them shots that they were comfortable with,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said.
GU coach Lisa Fortier felt that some of the shots were rushed and she credited the Golden Eagles for that.
“We were trying to run some sets, but Marquette made that difficult,” she said. “We couldn’t find anything easy.”
For the second straight game, nothing came easy for the Zags. The starters logged at least 31 minutes against Louisville, and the loss of Truong put even more pressure on a thin bench.
However, the Zags managed just 6 points and one rebound from the backups, who logged a combined 45 minutes. The Marquette bench had 11 points and three boards.
“They weren’t as productive numerically as we would have hoped for, but we needed to go to them,” Fortier said. “And they got some good experience.”
Maxwell and Truong led the Zags with 18 points each, while Yvonne Ejim was held to nine. GU shot well (7 for 16) from long range, but only 33% (13 for 39) inside the arc.
Led by Marotta’s 18 points, Marquette had four players in double figures and outrebounded the Zags 39-38.
Gonzaga opened the game on a 7-0 run, but Marquette recovered to lead 13-12. The Zags went up by seven later in the half; however, the Golden Eagles went on a 17-2 run to lead 39-32 at halftime.
The Zags trailed by seven early in the third quarter, but chipped away until Truong tied the game at 54 with a buzzer-beating 3 from halfcourt.
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