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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Yvonne Ejim announces return for another year before Gonzaga routs San Francisco 74-48

By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

The news keeps getting better for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team.

Five days after capturing the West Coast Conference championship, senior forward Yvonne Ejim, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer and rebounder, announced Thursday she will return for a graduate season next year – her COVID year.

She made the announcement via video as starting lineups were presented.

“I’m coming back,” Ejim was quoted in the pregame video, and the crowd erupted.

For good measure, the 16th-ranked Zags cut the nets down in a ceremonial celebration of the conference title following their convincing 74-48 win over the San Francisco Dons before a crowd of 5,415 at McCarthey Athletic Center.

It was an appropriate touch after the Zags clinched the championship in Stockton, California, on Saturday.

Gonzaga improved to 27-2 overall (14-0 WCC), the most wins in the nation, and ran its home winning streak to 33, second best behind No. 1 South Carolina.

It was the Zags’ 21st straight victory.

Ejim got out to a good start, scoring eight points in a little over a quarter. But she sat out the final 7 minutes and 27 seconds of the first half with two fouls.

She finished with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and six rebounds.

“We’ve known this has been coming for a long time and we’ve been planning on it,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said of Ejim’s announcement. “It’s just an honor to have players who want to stick around. That says a lot to their position coaches, it says a lot to their teammates, to the university and to our fans. … We try to make it a place where they can stay as long as they can.”

Ejim was glad to finally let all know about a decision she gave much thought about.

“I’m definitely super excited,” Ejim said. “It’s definitely one I’ve sat with a while. I’ve been thinking about it since last year. I wanted to make sure I was taking in all the factors. I know I made the best decision for me.”

Zags wing Brynna Maxwell, who has made a 3-pointer in every game, had 18 points, Eliza Hollingsworth finished with 12 points and six rebounds, and Kaylynne Truong had 10 points and five assists.

A Truong 3-pointer gave Gonzaga its biggest lead in the opening half at 35-17.

Both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Zags made just 11 of 31 shots from the field, 4 of 13 from 3-point range. The Dons (11-15, 7-6) were 8 of 30 and 1 of 18 from 3-point range.

Both teams shot better in the second half. By then, though, the Dons were in too big of a hole.

The Zags mixed in some zone defense with their man-to-man. They committed just six turnovers – a sharp decline from the 20 they had against the Dons the first time around.

“The moral of the story is … there are a lot of ways we can win,” Fortier said. “We can dominate the glass and that can positively effect the outcome. We can shoot it lights out. We always share the ball and find open players. The special sauce is we’re versatile.”

Maud Huijbens scored on a layup off a nice assist from Destiny Burton that gave the Zags their biggest lead at 74-45 late.

Gonzaga hits the road on Saturday when it visits Pepperdine.

The Zags’ final home game is Wednesday against Portland. It will be Senior Night.

Gonzaga announced it has lost redshirt sophomore Bree Salenbien for the rest of the season.

She suffered her third ACL injury, second at Gonzaga. She’s scheduled for surgery on Monday.