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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Gonzaga women roll Loyola Marymount 71-47, win second-straight without Yvonne Ejim

By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

How good is the Gonzaga women’s basketball team without its best player, Yvonne Ejim?

The Ejim-less team is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the second-best team in the West Coast Conference.

With Ejim on loan to the Canada Senior National Team, the 19th-ranked Bulldogs cruised past Loyola Marymount 71-47 on Saturday afternoon before 5,442 at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Gonzaga (24-2 overall, 11-0 WCC) topped LMU 72-48 in Los Angeles in mid-January. The Zags essentially beat the Lions (9-14, 4-7) by the same margin without Ejim.

It was Gonzaga’s 32nd straight home win and 18th consecutive this season.

“When (Yvonne) gets back, we’ll expect her to be (Yvonne),” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “But when (Yvonne) is here, we don’t expect her to do all the things that she does all the time. It’s not like we’re asking her to do what she does on paper. We’re asking our team to be our team. Hopefully, our team realizes – and I think they know this – we can be very good if we don’t have a certain player.”

Gonzaga may have played its best defense of the season in the first half , limiting LMU to 16 points. The Lions were stuck on six points for much of the opening half, going 9 minutes and 58 seconds between baskets.

Gonzaga led 38-16 at halftime.

“Sixteen points is pretty good,” Fortier said. “We’re getting a lot better at defense, honestly. We were probably better than we thought in the nonconference. We played such a tough nonconference schedule and some really dynamic offenses. So our defensive points per possession were a little bit higher than we wanted them to be.

“It was a really good team effort from us defensively in that half, the second quarter especially. They were stuck on six for quite a while.”

Gonzaga played an usually poor third quarter, making just 4 of 17 shots from the field, 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

“They were pressuring us,” Fortier said. “We got a little out of sorts. The stat sheet doesn’t tell me how many turnovers we had in that quarter, but it didn’t feel clean.”

Still, Gonzaga took a 49-27 lead into the fourth quarter.

Gonzaga extended its lead to as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter, but the Lions, unlike some of the other WCC teams, didn’t go away. They were pressing into the final minute.

Kaylynne Truong led Gonzaga with 13 points and eight assists,

Brynna Maxwell added 11 points and five rebounds, and Calli Stokes came off the bench to contribute 10 points and seven rebounds.

“Coach has really been emphasizing (defense) recently because it’s the next step for us,” Stokes said. “We’re a great offensive team. The defense is really going to help propel us toward the postseason. We can get our shots up. It’s also guarding people that’s really important, too.”

Junior forward Maud Huijbens started for Ejim the past two games, but Ejim’s absence allowed senior forward Destiny Burton more minutes.

“I made a promise to (Yvonne) that while she’s gone I’ll do my best to help the team and keep us going in the right direction,” Burton said.

Burton kept her word. She finished with 14 points and six rebounds in a combined 30 minutes