GU women battle back to beat Wisconsin, 62-53

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team overcame a 14-point first half deficit and earned a 62-53 victory over the University of Wisconsin Friday evening in front of 5,758 Bulldog faithful at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The nine-point win pushed the Bulldogs record to 3-0, while the Badgers fell to 1-1 with the setback.

Gonzaga was stunned early in the first half when Wisconsin used a 13-0 run to turn a one-point edge into a 14-point advantage at 31-17 with 4:13 to play before halftime. The Badgers hit 6-of-7 from the field in their four-minute outburst, while forcing the Bulldogs to turn the ball over three times and miss all five shots they took.

"Wisconsin is a very good team, no question about a Big Ten team with Big Ten athletes. They came in and pushed us around early," explained Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves of Wisconsin's early momentum. "Once we got our legs underneath us, I liked how we play."

GU women battle back to beat Wisconsin, 62-53

The Bulldogs did finally get their legs beneath them and turned the tables on the Badgers with an 11-0 run of their own to close out the half and slice UW's lead to 31-28.

The run was sparked on a steal by junior Haiden Palmer which turned into a layup by sophomore Keani Albanez. Palmer would herself score five points in the run that spanned the final 3:33 of the first half.

It was Taelor Karr that ended the first half scoring for GU on a layup with three ticks on the clock.

"That last layup by Taelor, with her off hand that went in, that was terrific," stated Graves. "Along with that layup, our run to end the half was huge. Now suddenly we go into the locker room with a little bit of momentum. "

The Bulldogs momentum carried over to the early moments of the second half in the form of a 6-0 run. The quick start gave Gonzaga a 35-31 advantage at 18:12; its first lead since the 9:28 mark of the opening 20 minutes when it led 16-13.

The Badgers, who were held scoreless for the final 4:13 of the first half, were held without a point for the first 3:01 of the second half. They finally broke their scoring drought on a layup by Taylor Wurtz at 16:59 to put GU's lead at 35-33.

Wisconsin battled back to tie the game twice in the next four minutes and was down only two at 44-42 before Gonzaga strung together another all-important run; this time a 13-1 run.

Palmer again was the player who started the push by converting an old-fashion three-point play. She would also close out the run with a layup at the 4:22 mark to put the score at 57-43.

After scoring just 12 points in the first 16 minutes of the final half, Wisconsin tallied 10 down the stretch to cut Gonzaga's winning score to single-digits.

Gonzaga was led by both Palmer and Karr. Palmer finished with a team-high 15 points, along with five rebounds and five steals; her third-straight game with five-plus steals. Karr added 14 points, three rebounds, a block and a steal.

Also superb off the bench for GU was redshirt freshman Shelby Cheslek. The 6-5 center grabbed a career and game-high 11 boards; scored seven points, blocked three shots, had two steals and two assists.

Wisconsin was led by Morgan Paige with a game-high 20 points.

The Bulldogs now focus their attention on Monmouth University who they will host Sunday at 6 p.m.