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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

No. 16 Gonzaga women score at will, beat Santa Clara 87-49

By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

Scoring runs and droughts have a way of quickly turning a close game into a blowout.

Or at least that seems to be the pattern in many of the Gonzaga women’s basketball games.

Such a flurry midway through the second quarter propelled the Zags to a measure of revenge Thursday.

No. 16 Gonzaga, which suffered its lone West Coast Conference loss to Santa Clara last season, ran away from the Broncos 87-49 before 5,155 at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Except for a 6-0 spurt to open the second half, Santa Clara showed little life. Give the Zags (15-2 overall, 2-0 WCC) all the credit.

The Zags’ 27th consecutive home win was never in doubt about midway through the second quarter.

Santa Clara (13-4, 1-1) pulled within 23-19 with just less than 6 minutes to go before halftime. An 18-3 surge by the Zags gave Gonzaga a 41-22 lead at halftime.

The Broncos didn’t score the final 3 minutes, 26 seconds of the opening half.

Santa Clara looked nothing like the team that handed the Zags their lone conference loss last year – 77-72 at Santa Clara.

“Our (second and third) quarters offensively were really outstanding,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “To hold them to nine and then 14 … is impressive.”

With a 55-33 lead midway through the third quarter, Gonzaga finished the quarter on a 13-3 run to take a 68-36 lead into the fourth.

A 3-pointer from Brynna Maxwell gave Gonzaga its biggest lead at 83-39 with 6:20 remaining. Maxwell, a transfer from Utah, increased her career scoring to more than 1,700 points.

Zags point guard Kayleigh Truong, who missed 23 games last year because of a foot injury, reached the 1,000-point milestone.

There were few negative statistics for the Zags. They shot 59.6% (34 of 57) from the field.

Fortier was only dissatisfied with was a lack of poise in the first quarter when Gonzaga led 14-13 after the opening 10 minutes.

Her players let the game come to them the final three quarters, making a good Santa Clara team look pedestrian.

The Zags clamped down on the Broncos’ leading scorer Tess Heal, limiting her to 10 points, eight below her average.

“Our team did their job trying to keep her away from the basket,” Fortier said. “Lots to be happy on the stat sheet. They’re a really good team. This isn’t the first time that we’ve told (our team), ‘This is a really good team.’ We’ve made some really good teams look like they’re having a bad night.”

Gonzaga had its usual balance on offense. Yvonne Ejim led with 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. She also had four assists, most of which went to Eliza Hollingsworth, and three steals.

“They’re good at finding each other,” Fortier said of Ejim and Hollingsworth. “They’re smart, they don’t forget what’s going on. They know when to cut (to the basket) and they know who to look for. I’m glad they play for me.”

Hollingsworth scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Kayleigh Truong added 13 points and Maxwell 12.

“We knew coming into the game that they were going to send a double team and things like that,” Ejim said. “So our whole post group has been working this entire week to stay patient when we get it and look for our buddy and just make sure we were making the right decisions under control. (Eliza) gave me a little cue.

“I feel like just trusting that connection that we have as a post group helped us feed each other inside.”