No. 17 Gonzaga women rally in second half to preserve winning streak, beat Loyola Marymount 66-55
Jan. 26, 2023 Updated Thu., Jan. 26, 2023 at 10:24 p.m.
Gonzaga guard McKayla Williams (24) reaches for the ball as Loyola Marymount forward Alexis Mark (35) looks to pass on a floor scramble during the second half of a NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Even against the last-place team in the West Coast Conference, nothing came easy Thursday night for the Gonzaga women.
The Zags lost starting forward Eliza Hollingsworth to injury early in the first half, lost their shooting touch for the entire first half and even their focus at the foul line.
But even in one of the most physical games of the season, they never lost their composure, and GU pulled away in the second half for a 66-55 win over Loyola Marymount in a noisy McCarthey Athletic Center.
“We had to rally as a team, I think we did a really good job,” said guard Kaylynne Truong, who led the way with 19 points and six assists.
The win was Gonzaga’s 20th this season and kept them one game ahead of Portland and three up on third-place BYU.
But the postgame mood was subdued after the hard fall Hollingsworth took early in the first quarter. Fouled by LMU’s Khari Clark, Hollingsworth fell head-first to the Kennel floor.
Prone for several minutes, she walked uneasily to the trainer’s room and didn’t return.
“She’s OK but she was shook up,” Ccoach Lisa Fortier said. “It was a pretty aggressive foul, and she hit her head pretty hard.”
Hollingsworth wasn’t the only casualty. Also in the first quarter, Yvonne Ejim suffered a facial cut and was out for several minutes.
Facing a team they beat by 45 points four weeks ago in Los Angeles, the 17th-ranked Zags half expected a different approach from the Lions. And they got it: a hard-nosed defense that Fortier said was “close to the line” of going too far.
“Their games plan was to be overly physical,” Fortier said. “But the physical nature of the game is something we need to get better at.”
LMU, which entered the game in a three-way tie for last place in the WCC, seized the momentum at that point and held it for most of the first half.
While the Zags missed 11 of their first 15 shots, the Lions led 13-10 after one quarter and twice went up by seven in the second.
Inevitable or not, the GU rally began anyway late in the half. Predictably or not, it was led by Truong and Ejim.
With GU down 26-19 with four minutes left in the half, Ejim converted an offensive rebound into an easy layin. Over the next Less than a minute later, Ejim made two foul shots.
After Brynna Maxwell hit a short jumper, Truong made a tough fadeaway to give GU its first lead since the first minute of the game.
Then came the unthinkable. Maxwell, the nation’s top free-throw shooter, missed for the first time since November. But she made another to give the Zags a 28-26 lead at halftime.
LMU (5-13 overall and 2-8 in the WCC) briefly regained the lead on a 3-pointer from Mt. Spokane High School product Aspyn Adams.
At that point, the Lions figured they had a shot to repeat the feat of their men’s team, which shocked the Zags last week on the same floor.
However, Truong and Ejim led the way as GU regained the lead and slowly pulled away.
Shooting 61% in the third quarter, the Zags were up 48-41 when it ended. The lead was up to 18 midway through the fourth quarter as GU improved to 20-2 overall.
Ejim added 15 points and five boards while going 6 for 9 from the field. Calli Stokes, coming off the bench and filling some of the void left by Hollingsworth, had 12 points and six boards.
Gonzaga struggled somewhat on the glass, winning the rebounding battle by only 33 to 26.
The leading foul-shooting team in Division 1 at 80.1%, the Zags went 10 for 17.
Gonzaga’s two-game home stand continues Saturday against Pepperdine. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.