Moraga, Calif. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team opened West Coast Conference play with a heartbreaking 79-78 overtime setback at Saint Mary's College Saturday afternoon. The 24th ranked Bulldogs, who fell to 10-3 on the year with the loss, dropped its first opening league game since the 2002-03 campaign. The Gaels improved to 11-1 overall with the victory.
It was a wild ending to regulation as Saint Mary's Jackie Nared looked to have won the game with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer but after official review, there was .3-seconds put back on the clock with SMC up 72-71.
After a timeout called by Zag head coach Kelly Graves, junior Lindsay Sherbert – the screener on the inbounds play - was fouled before the ball even got in play and was sent to the line for the bonus. Sherbert sank the first free throw to tie the game at 72 but missed the second which then sent the game into overtime; the first overtime contest for the Zags this season.
Gonzaga's Danielle Walter, who was inserted into the game after starting point guard Jazmine Redmon went down with a high ankle sprain early in the second half, hit a jumper to start overtime and a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining to give the Zags a two-point advantage at 78-76.
Saint Mary's Danielle Mauldin was fouled on the next play and sank one of two free throws to cut the Zags edge to one with 2:39 left. After Gonzaga couldn't covert on the next three field goal attempts, Mauldin was again fouled and sank both free throws – her 13th and 14th of the contest – to give the Gaels the lead at 79-78 with 1:13 to play.
Walter and Saint Mary's Kate Gaze traded turnovers, resulting in Gonzaga holding possession with 20 seconds on the clock. Senior Haiden Palmer missed the jumper but a tie-up once again resulted in the Zags earning possession with five seconds remaining. The inbounds play under the basket went to Palmer on the baseline but her jumper was short and the Gaels escaped with the overtime victory.
Gonzaga had led since Palmer's six points fueled a 12-2 run to close the half for a 37-32 lead. The Bulldogs largest lead was 10-points in the second half – after Palmer opened the second half with a 3-pointer and steal and layup to put to score at 42-32.
Palmer scored a game and career-high 31 points – becoming the 13th player in school history to record a 30-plus point game. She also chipped in four steals, three blocks, two rebounds and one assist. Walter added a career-high 14 points, all coming in the second half, and had three assists and one steal.
Nared scored 27 points for the Gaels, hitting 10-of-20 from the field, including 6-of-9 on 3-pointers, while Mauldin had 24 points with 23 rebounds – 10 offensive.
Gonzaga lost the battle of the boards 54-31 and at the free throw line as Saint Mary's sank 23-of-29 and the Zags were only 6-of-14. Three of the Bulldogs misses came in the final 28 seconds of the second half – each the second free throw of the bonus.