All the Gonzaga women’s basketball team had to do Thursday was get the game to overtime.
Easier said than done considering how poorly the Zags shot in the first half.
But Gonzaga found enough range to hold off upset-minded Cal 78-70 in nonconference play at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.
An 11-foot jumper by Kayleigh Truong with 31 seconds to go in regulation allowed Gonzaga to knot the score at 65. That’s where it would stand, forcing the extra 5 minutes.
Then in overtime, the 23rd-ranked Zags looked like themselves. They pulled ahead 76-67 when Esther Little made two free throws with 31 seconds remaining.
The Zags (9-2) had to work through foul trouble in the second half. Yvonne Ejim picked up her third and sat out the final 3:16 of the third quarter. But she played the final quarter and overtime without picking up a foul.
Kaylynne Truong wasn’t as fortunate. Eighteen seconds after picking up her 12th assist, she fouled out with 2:20 remaining in regulation.
Calli Stokes came off the bench and provided a big spark for the Zags.
With the shot clock nearing zero, Ejim found Stokes wide open in the corner, and she buried a 3-pointer to give Gonzaga the lead for good at 68-65 to open overtime.
Despite suffering through their worst shooting half of the season to open the game, Gonzaga warmed up. The Zags finished by shooting 36.1%, making 26 of 72 shots from the field.
In the first half, Gonzaga made just 10 of 39 (25.6%) from the field and 4 of 20 (20%) from 3-point range.
Ila Lane converted a three-point play to give Cal its biggest lead at 30-21 with 2:48 to go before halftime.
By putting up 39 shots, the Zags had plenty of opportunities in the first half. They had 13 offensive rebounds but still struggled to convert the extra chances.
Kayleigh Truong’s 3-pointer at the buzzer allowed Gonzaga to pull within 34-28 going into halftime.
The Zags had to be thankful the margin wasn’t wider . They had 12 more field goal attempts than the Bears in the first two quarters.
Ejim led the Zags with 21 points and nine rebounds. Brynna Maxwell added 18 points, Kayleigh Truong had 14 points, six assists and four rebounds. Stokes finished with eight points and matched Ejim with nine rebounds.
Gonzaga outrebounded Cal 45-37 and had 18 offensive rebounds.
McKayla Williams, a starter last year for the Zags who transferred to Cal, had 10 points.
Cal (7-2) was coming off a 74-69 win over Saint Mary’s.
Gonzaga travels to Houston to take on Rice at noon Saturday.