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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

No. 17 Gonzaga women complete season sweep of Santa Clara, extend win streak to 13

Gonzaga’s Maud Huijbens, who scored 15 points, shoots during Thursday’s West Coast Conference game in Santa Clara, Calif.  (Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics)
By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

The last time the Gonzaga women’s basketball team dropped a West Coast Conference game, it happened at Santa Clara about this time a year ago.

Even though Gonzaga hammered Santa Clara by 38 points two weeks ago, Zags coach Lisa Fortier figured the rematch would have a different flavor.

It didn’t.

The 17th-ranked Zags dominated the Broncos, racing to an 82-45 victory at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, California, on Thursday.

“I know our two scores have looked lopsided, (but) this is a really good team,” Fortier said of the Broncos. “They have a lot of weapons and they rebound well and they defend hard. Our team has just really been ready. We’ve had a good game plan and executed it really well against them both times.”

Gonzaga extended its winning streak to 13, improving to 19-2 overall and 6-0 in the WCC. One more win and the Zags will have at least 20 victories for the 10th straight season.

Santa Clara (15-6, 3-3) lost for the first time at home in nine games. The 45 points are the lowest this season for the Broncos.

The Zags got the usual efforts from their starters. What junior forward Maud Huijbens provided off the bench Thursday was a huge bonus.

Huijbens matched her career high with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor to go with five rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. She had 15 points in the Zags’ 96-78 win over Stanford in early December.

“Maud played really well,” Fortier said. “She finished well. She’s improved so much as a finisher. Offensively, she’s a threat all over the floor.”

The Zags took care of business early and often. They got out to a 22-14 lead after the first quarter and then used an 11-0 start in the second quarter for a 33-14 lead.

Gonzaga gave some of the margin back before going into halftime leading 42-29.

Another good start capped by a Kaylynne Truong 3-pointer put Gonzaga ahead 50-21 with 8:16 to go in the third quarter.

Gonzaga went nearly 5 minutes without scoring, but Santa Clara couldn’t take advantage. The Broncos couldn’t crack the Zags’ defense.

“We did a great job finding the open people,” Huijbens said. “We are focusing as a team on getting better every day and staying consistent. We did that today.”

Kayleigh Truong hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter, extending Gonzaga’s lead to 59-36.

It only got worse for the Broncos in the final quarter.

Gonzaga had an advantage in most statistics, but none was more telling than rebounding. The Zags outrebounded the Broncos 43-22.

“It’s the biggest margin we’ve had all year,” Fortier said. “And they’re actually a really good rebounding team. They’re really physical and they’re really aggressive. To put a number like that up against a team that’s as good as this team is …”

Yvonne Ejim had a seventh double-double this season to lead Gonzaga. She had a game-high 19 points to go with 13 rebounds and five assists.

Earlier on Thursday, Ejim was named to the top 10 candidates for the 2024 Katrina McClain Award, announced by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The award is named after the two-time All-American and 1987 national player of the year.

In its seventh year, the award recognizes the top power forwards in NCAA Division I.

Kaylynne Truong totaled 14 points and five rebounds, Kayleigh Truong added 12 points, six assists and two steals, and Brynna Maxwell scored 12 points.

The Zags had 25 assists. They made 35 of 65 shots (53.8%) from the field.

Gonzaga heads to San Francisco on Saturday.

It’s the second of three straight road games before Gonzaga returns home for three straight.