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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Turnovers doom Gonzaga women in 81-70 loss to No. 20 Louisville at Betty Chancellor Classic

Gonzaga guard Kaylynne Truong drives against Louisville on Sunday during the Betty Chancellor Classic in Katy, Texas.  (Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics)
By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

Usually a handful of sevens can be fortuitous, especially in a game of cards.

They weren’t so for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon.

The Zags committed seven turnovers in the first and fourth quarters and seven in between, and the result was predictable as 20th-ranked Louisville took advantage of the miscues, 81-70, at the Betty Chancellor Classic in Katy, Texas.

The 21 turnovers also were seven more than Gonzaga’s average. And to further the seven metaphor, Louisville had seven more steals (10-3).

It all added up to a difficult challenge for the Zags (6-2).

Louisville started the game with defensive intensity and never let off the throttle. And except for a spurt here and there Gonzaga could never find a sustained offensive flow against Louisville’s in-your-grill defensive intensity.

“One of the keys was for us to take care of the ball,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “They shot too good of a percentage because they were getting to the rim. We shot 55% (and) that’s a good percentage, only they shot 58%. They got too deep in the paint. We wanted to control the paint a lot better than we did. And part of that was based off turnovers that led to easy baskets for them.”

Yvonne Ejim made two free throws to give Gonzaga a 23-21 lead just 42 seconds into the second quarter. That would be the last time the Zags led.

Louisville (6-1) used a 20-9 run to close out the first half with a 47-36 lead.

Gonzaga matched Louisville’s intensity with better execution to open the second half. A steal and ensuing layup gave Louisville a 55-45 lead at the 5:59 mark of the third quarter.

That’s when Gonzaga closed the gap. Calli Stokes hit a 3-pointer followed by a 3-pointer from Brynna Maxwell, and the Zags were within 55-51.

Then something strange happened. Stokes drove baseline and was fouled hard on an attempted shot. The referees gathered and chose to watch a replay of the play, causing a long stoppage.

Fortier offered an explanation: “(The refs) said she (Stokes) came down on her (the defender) after the play with an aggressive and unnatural way. That’s what they saw on the film and I have not seen it myself. I would assume it was just because she’s just a little bit awkward (after being fouled) and going 100 mph and that kid fouled her hard.”

Stokes missed the two free throws and Louisville’s Kiki Jefferson made the awarded free throws, giving the Cardinals a 59-51 lead.

A three-point play from Ejim and jumper by Maxwell got the Zags within 59-56 by quarter’s end.

That would be as close as Gonzaga would get. The turnovers piled up again, and Louisville stretched the lead to 79-62 with 4:36 to go.

Gonzaga got the deficit under double digits at 79-70 before the outcome was academic.

The Zags surely tired in their third game in as many days. Gonzaga played eight while Louisville played 11. Four of Gonzaga’s starters played 29 or more minutes while just one Cardinal played more than 27 minutes. Some of it was because of the early foul trouble.

‘We played three good teams,” Fortier said. “I think we had two and a half good performances. The way we came out in the third quarter I loved. I thought we came out and competed better in that quarter.”

Fortier chalked up the fourth quarter to poor execution.

“It was partially because they speed you up,” she said. “We cut it to three and you have to have your best execution at that time. We have to run whatever we’re trying to run at the time well and at least get a good shot even if you’re not going to make it.”

Ejim led Gonzaga with 23 points an seven rebounds. Maxwell had 16 points including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Kaylynne Truong had 11 points and four assists and Kayleigh Truong added 10 points, seven assists and three rebound.

Kayleigh Truong was named to the all-tournament team.

“There’s a lot to learn,” Fortier said. “We got out of it about what we were hoping to get out of it and we’re all intact so that’s good.”

Gonzaga returns to action Wednesday when it makes a short trip to Cheney to face Eastern Washington (4-1). Tipoff is at 6 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN+.