SAN DIEGO - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team overcame a tough shooting performance in the first half which resulted in a two-point halftime deficit and came back to earn a 62-50 victory at the University of San Diego Saturday afternoon. Junior Haiden Palmer poured in a game-high 22 points, including a crucial 16 points in the all-important second half.
The 12-point victory helped Gonzaga to move to 15-5 on the year and 5-1 in the West Coast Conference. San Diego fell to 11-7 overall and 3-3 in league.
It was a slow moving first half for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs put up 15 more shots than the Toreros but still went into the locker room down by two at 23-21. The Zags hit only 10-of-34 from the floor for a sub-par 29.4 percent shooting. The Toreros themselves hit one less field goal than GU going 9-of-19 from the field. The difference was hitting 5-of-8 the charity stripe. Gonzaga only went to the line twice, hitting one.
The Zags defense was solid in the opening 20 minutes, forcing the Toreros to turn the ball over 17 times but scored just 10 points off those miscues. San Diego turned Gonzaga over eight times and scored 11 points off those.
Gonzaga did hold a four point edge on San Diego with 4:37 left in the half but a 6-0 spurt to close out the half by San Diego gave the Toreros their two point advantage. During the Bulldogs scoring drought they went 0-6 from the field and turned the ball over once.
San Diego still controlled the game early in the second half, capturing a four-point edge – its largest of the contest – at 28-24 with 17:46 left on the clock.
Gonzaga used a 6-2 run to tie the game at 30-30, capped off by an impressive tip-in by Palmer off a missed jumper by redshirt freshman Shaniqua Nilles. The game would tie twice more before a 3-pointer by senior Meghan Winters – the Zags first of the contest – gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game since the early moments of the first stanza at 35-34 with 11:36 remaining.
The Toreros regained the lead twice more before the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum-shifting advantage after a 3-pointer by sophomore Keani Albanez put GU's edge at 40-38. The 3-ball by the guard started a 13-2 run that put the Bulldogs lead in double-digits at 50-40 at 5:40 and seemingly out of San Diego's reach. Albanez had five points in the run and Palmer added four.
Palmer was most impressive in the final four minutes for Gonzaga, scoring eight of the team's final 12 points to help starve off any Torero run.
Gonzaga finished the second half shooting 47.1 percent (16-of-34) from the field – stark contrast to the first half – and 38.2 percent overall (26-of-68).
Along with Palmer, eight other players scored for the Bulldogs, including senior Taelor Karr with 10 points and Albanez with seven.
Palmer and Albanez combined for 10 of Gonzaga's 17 steals,
San Diego was led by Amy Kame with 15 points. Katelyn McDaniel and Maya Hood added 11 points each.
Gonzaga returns to action Thursday, Jan. 24 when it plays at Pepperdine University. Game time is set for 7 p.m.