SAN FRANCISCO - An explosive first half by the Gonzaga University women's basketball team helped it grab 84-46 victory at the University of San Francisco Thursday night at War Memorial Gym. The Bulldogs scored an opening 20 minutes season-high 49 points and earned its largest margin of victory in West Coast Conference play this season and second-highest overall.
The Zags improved to 19-5 on the year with the 38-point victory and 9-1 in West Coast Conference play, while the Dons dropped to 9-14 overall and 2-8 in league.
A close game early in the opening minutes was quickly washed away with a game-breaking 11-0 run. After USF's Mel Khlok hit two free throws to put Gonzaga's lead at just 9-8, the Bulldogs turned on their motors with the important double-figure run. Sophomore Sunny Greinacher started things off with a jumper, while on-fire Meghan Winters drained one of her three first half 3-pointers to close out the run.
A 3-pointer by Khlok halted the run, but Gonzaga just started another, this time a 15-0 spurt that saw freshman Kiara Kudron contribute four points off the bench and Winters drain her other two 3-pointers. With the run, the Bulldogs held the 34-11 advantage with 9:05 remaining.
San Francisco finally stopped the scoring spurt by Gonzaga with another 3-pointer, this time by Alexa Hardick, but that didn't stop the Zags defense once again holding the Dons scoreless for nearly another three minutes. GU capitalized scoring 12-straight points and held the 46-14 advantage at 3:16.
All-in-all, Gonzaga had a 38-6 run to grab its 32-point lead.
San Francisco did end the half scoring seven of the final 10 points to put GU's lead at 49-21.
Gonzaga finished the half shooting a blistering 59.4 percent (19-of-32) and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) on 3-pointers. The Zags also forced 17 USF turnovers and scored 21 points off the miscues.
San Francisco finished the half making seven free throws, one more than the total number of field goals the Dons made total. USF finished the half shooting 22.2 percent (6-of-21) from the floor.
The Bulldogs kept their lead above 20 points for the final 20 minutes and hit a 30-point advantage seven minutes into the final half when junior Haiden Palmer, who only played four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, sank two free throws to put the score at 60-29 and put their lead at 31 points with 13:22 to play in the contest.
Gonzaga's largest lead of the game was 43 points at 78-35 with 5:03 left. Greianacher was the one who put them up 43 as she hit her second-ever career 3-pointer.
Twelve players scored in the victory for the Bulldogs, with the bench accounting for 35 points, 11 points less than San Francisco scored overall.
Senior Taelor Karr led all scorers with 18 points and Greinacher chipped in 14 points. Winters added nine points, Kurdon had five and junior Stephanie Golden tallied six.
San Francisco was led by Shane Dikes with 11 points, Khlok and Taj Winston each added 10.
Gonzaga now heads to Los Angeles to play Loyola Marymount University. Game time is set for 2 p.m.