Gonzaga University women’s basketball sophomore Sunny Greinacher exploded for a career-high 21 points to pace the Bulldogs to a 79-57 victory over visiting Loyola Marymount University Thursday evening at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Greinacher – who scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half – sank 10-of-13 from the field and was 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to best her career-high by four points. The forward from Essen, Germany, who leads the team in shooting percentage at 54.5 percent, also grabbed seven rebounds, made three steals and dished out one assist.
Head coach Kelly Graves was excited about the 6-4 forward’s aggressive play and progression as a threat inside.
“If you have been around our program and the posts we have had, you know going inside is our bread and butter,” explained Graves. “Sunny can be the next one in that long line. She is a double threat; with her mid-range jumpers and inside play. She did a great job tonight.”
Greinacher was joined in double-figures by junior Jazmine Redmon and senior Taelor Karr. Redmon tallied 12 points, including going 2-of-2 from beyond the 3-point arc, while Karr added 10 points, along with six assists and three steals.
Hazel Ramirez had 14 points for the Lions (8-13, 2-6 WCC) who trailed by as many as 26 points and dropped their 10th straight game in the series with the Bulldogs (17-5, 7-1 WCC).
Gonzaga’s defense was once again spot on as it forced Loyola Marymount to turn the ball over 23 times and was credited with 17 steals; two off matching its season-high. The Bulldogs didn’t let the Lion miscues go to waste, scoring 33 points off the turnovers.
The Bulldogs also clamped down on LMU’s star Alex Cowling, who came into the game averaging 15.9 points per contest and is 120 points away from breaking the WCC scoring record. Cowling finished with 12 points, five of which came from the charity stripe. She made 3-of-9 from the field and didn’t crack double-figures until there was 4:28 left in the contest.
“I thought we were really good on the defensive end tonight,” stated Graves. “I thought we did a good job on Alex Cowling who is soon to be the all-time leading scoring in conference history. She worked for everything she had tonight.”
It was a tight 3-point game until a 21-4 run catapulted Gonzaga to a 20-point edge at 34-14 with 5:15 to play in the first half. The Bulldogs hit four 3-pointers during the run, including two by senior Meghan Winters.
Loyola Marymount did cut the lead to 12 with 1:24 left before intermission and had a chance to get within single-digits but a missed 3-pointer by Ramirez turned into a 3-pointer by Karr which gave GU its 43-28 halftime lead.
Greinacher then took over in the second half. She scored the first four points of the final 20 minutes and eight of the Bulldogs nine points in their opening 9-2 run.
It was even Greinacher that gave the Zags their largest lead of the game. She hit a jumper at the 9:34 mark to put the score at 63-37. That jumper also broke her previous career-high of 17 points as she hit 18 with the bucket.
Greinacher is just the third Gonzaga player to break the 20-point plateau this season; joining Karr and junior Haiden Palmer.
The Bulldogs next game is Saturday, Feb 2 when they host Pepperdine University. The game, which is sold out, is set for 2 p.m.