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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

No. 17 Gonzaga women continue win streak with win at Saint Mary’s 96-68

Gonzaga guard Brynna Maxwell dribbles around a screen set by teammate Kayleigh Truong on Saint Mary’s defender Tayla Dalton during a West Coast Conference game in Moraga, California, on Thursday.  (Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics)
By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

Lisa Fortier may have called her fastest timeout in her 10-year head coaching career Thursday afternoon.

The Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s women’s basketball game was just 1 minute, 27 seconds old when Fortier called a timeout.

From watching her interact with her team, Fortier was administering a stern message.

Whatever Fortier shared with her team, the Zags heard loud and clear.

Gonzaga caught fire from 3-point range, allowing the Zags to run away to a 96-68 win over the Gaels at UCU Pavilion in Moraga, California.

“I called the quick timeout because I didn’t like the defensive intensity at all,” Fortier said. “ (The Gaels) looked like they had all the momentum and we weren’t executing at all how we wanted to. I didn’t want to deal with that another minute longer.”

Both teams combined for 30 3-pointers, 15 apiece.

The Gaels, though, didn’t have answers for the 17th-ranked Zags, who got their 25th win – the most in the nation. Gonzaga is 25-2 overall, 12-0 in the West Coast Conference.

“I really thought we moved the ball as well as we have all year,” Fortier said. “We’re very unselfish – always. The ball never stuck anywhere. They play zone most of the time, but we share the ball well. They had to get out of it (zone).”

It was Gonzaga’s 19th win in a row.

Eliza Hollingsworth’s two free throws gave Gonzaga its biggest lead at 90-50 with 5:13 remaining.

To put the timeout in context, Gonzaga trailed 5-2 at the 8:33 mark of the first quarter. Saint Mary’s held a lead for 6:02 before the Zags began to take over.

Gonzaga didn’t respond immediately after Fortier’s early timeout. Saint Mary’s (10-15, 3-8) built two seven-point leads, the last coming at 16-9.

The momentum shifted quickly, though. Gonzaga outscored Saint Mary’s 40-13 the final 15 minutes of the first half, taking a 47-26 lead into halftime.

“Fifteen of our own (3s) is amazing,” Fortier said. “It’s a bummer on the other side. A little bit disappointed with our defense. It’s not the best execution of our game plan that we’ve ever had.”

The Zags took their first lead at 17-16 when Kayleigh Truong made a 3-pointer.

Gonzaga turned 19 turnovers into 37 points.

The Zags had another stout rebounding advantage. They finished with 44 to the Gaels’ 21.

“We rebounded really well,” Fortier said. “The rebounding and the offense were the high points of the game. The defense was not.”

Six of the 10 Zags who played scored in double figures.

Kaylynne Truong and Brynna Maxwell led Gonzaga with 20 points each. Truong, who made 6 of 9 from 3-point range, also had four of the Zags’ 19 assists and two steals and Maxwell had five rebounds.

GU junior forward Maud Huijbens came off the bench to tie her career high for the third time with 15 points to go with five rebounds. Hollingsworth had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Yvonne Ejim, back from playing three games with the Canada Senior National Team, had another double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists.

GU reserve guard Bree Salenbien, who has seen spot playing time since returning from an injury the first of the year, didn’t make the trip with Gonzaga, staying in Spokane to recover from another injury.

The NCAA on Thursday released its first list of top 16 seeds and host seeds for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Despite being ranked 11th in the NET, the Zags weren’t included as a host site.

The Zags travel to Stockton, California, to face Pacific (14-10, 6-5) on Saturday. Two weeks ago, Gonzaga hammered Pacific 104-39.

Pacific beat second-place Portland (17-9, 9-3) 80-74 on Thursday.