For all the highs and the lows of the last 10 days, the Gonzaga women are doing a pretty good job of staying grounded.
Not that they have much choice.
Monday began with the Zags’ first appearance in the Top 25 since the spring of 2021 and ended with an easy 62-43 win over Maine.
However, 23rd-ranked Zags did so with just nine players after losing two key contributors.
Forward Maud Huijbens, the first forward off the bench, is under concussion protocols. More concerning Monday night was the sight of starting point guard Kayleigh Truong wearing a boot on her right foot.
Both players are out indefinitely, said coach Lisa Fortier, whose team faces a tough game Thursday in Texas against Stephen F. Austin.
“This is the time when we show our toughness and our character,” Fortier said.
Both traits were tested early by Maine, which played the Zags evenly until late in the second quarter and hung around until early in the fourth.
It didn’t help that GU (6-1) hadn’t played since Nov. 21, when they beat No. 23 Tennessee to take third place in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
A scheduled game against Eastern Washington on Saturday was scrapped for reasons that still aren’t clear. Officially, the game was postponed “due to institution health and safety protocols, both teams mutually agreed to postpone the game and look for a date to reschedule. “
The rust showed early in Monday’s game.
Leading 15-14 after one quarter, Gonzaga finally found some offensive rhythm in the second. Kaylynne Truong led the way with eight points and five assists by halftime. She finished with a game-high 15 points.
Leading 32-22 at halftime, Gonzaga broke the game open with a 12-4 run the start the third quarter.
The issue was hardly in doubt after Truong hit a long 3-pointer at the third-quarter horn to make it 49-31. Then she fell to the floor and raised her arms in triumph.
“I felt like I wanted to be picked up by teammates,” Truong said.
Collectively, the Zags were buoyed earlier by the Top 25 poll.
“I’m very proud of this team and I think we should have been ranked earlier,” Truong said. “I think we have what it takes to be a top caliber team and I still think we should be ranked higher.”
Because of the injuries, Monday’s game opened opportunities for others, especially Calli Stokes.
A redshirt freshman, Stokes had four points and seven rebounds whole logging a career-best 20 minutes on the court.
“Just the opportunity to play is something that I’m very grateful for,” Stokes said. I believe that everything happens for a reason and makes me that much more grateful for every second I get to be on the court.”
The Zags had four players in double figures. Brynna Maxwell, starting in place of Kayleigh Truong had 13 points and made two of four shots from long range. Yvonne Ejim and Eliza Hollingsworth each had 10.
Ejim had a game-high eight rebounds to help GU dominate the boards 41-24.
GU shot 47% (25 for 53) from the field and held Maine to 35% (17 for 49).
Jaycie Christopher had 13 points for Maine (3-4).
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