Behind 17 point efforts by both junior Haiden Palmer and sophomore Keani Albanez, the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team earned a 70-56 win at Loyola Marymount University Saturday afternoon. The eighth-straight double-digit win for the Bulldogs improved their record to 20-5 overall and 10-1 in the West Coast Conference. It is the seventh-straight year the Zags have reached 20 wins in a season.
The Lions fell to 9-15 overall and 3-8 in league with the loss.
For the second-straight game, the Bulldogs held its opponent under 20 points in the opening 20 minutes. Gonzaga went into the locker room with the 39-16 advantage after holding Loyola Marymount to 6-of-25 shooting (24.0 percent) from the field, including 0-of-4 on 3-pointers. The Lions scored four of its 16 points at the charity stripe. The Bulldogs defense also forced nine Lion turnovers and tallied 14 points off those miscues.
Gonzaga itself shot a blistering 51.4 percent from the field, hitting 18-of-35 from the field and 3-of-11 from beyond the 3-point arc. The Bulldogs, who had 11 assists on their 18 baskets, scored all 39 first half points from the field as they didn’t go to the free throw line once.
Eight players contributed points in the opening half to propel the Zags to their 23-point advantage. Junior Haiden Palmer led all scorers with 10 points, hitting 5-of-6 shots, while sophomore Keani Albanez came off the bench to chip in nine.
From the tip, Gonzaga controlled the game as it ran out to a 15-0 lead. All five Zag starters scored in the opening run, including senior Taelor Karr who led the way with five points.
Loyola Marymount finally got on the board at the 14:28 mark when Danielle Pruitt sank one-of-two free throws to put the score at 15-1. The Lions first field goal came nearly 30 seconds later when Emily Ben-Jumbo hit a jumper.
Palmer took over for GU, scoring six of its next 15 points in a 15-6 spurt that increased the Bulldogs advantage to 30-9 with 10:51 left on the clock.
The sophomore class of Sunny Greinacher and Albanez rounded out the scoring in the final seven minutes for GU with four and five points, respectively.
Loyola Marymount did mount a comeback on the shooting of Alex Cowling. The senior - who came into the game as the Lions leading scorer at 15.5 points per game – was held to two in the first half but rattled off nine-straight points in the first three minutes of the second half to cut Gonzaga’s edge to 43-25 at 17:07. She drained two 3-pointers, made a layup and sank one-of-two free throws.
The Lions got the Bulldogs advantage under 20 points at 17 after a jumper by Danielle Pruitt put the score at 53-36 with 11 minutes to play but a 6-3 run put back the visiting teams lead above 20 at 59-39.
The closest Loyola Marymount got until there was less than one minute left was 16 points and the largest lead for Gonzaga over the final seven minutes was 21 points.
Gonzaga finished the game shooting 47.5 percent (29-of-61) from the field and 70.0 percent (7-of-10) at the charity stripe.
Along with Palmer and Albanez, Cheslek registered double-figure points. She 6-5 redshirt freshman chipped in 11 points and grabbed a career-tying high 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.
Cowling finished with a team-high 16 points for the Lions. Chelsea Barnes added 11.
The Bulldogs return home to host Saint Mary’s College Thursday at 6 p.m. The Gaels are currently in second place in the WCC standings at 8-2.