“I love playing them because I know they are going to be ready, I know they are going to compete,” explained Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves of the Eagles, who were picked to win the Big Sky Conference this season. “They are well coached – Coach Schuller does an awesome job and that’s a quality opponent that is going to win a lot of games this year.”
It’s the fourth-straight opponent Gonzaga has played that was picked to win their league title. Through the opening four games, the Bulldogs are 3-1.
Palmer registered double-figure points for the fourth-consecutive game and the first 20-plus point performance of the year. She drained a 10-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-4 from beyond the 3-point arc, and sank 3-of-6 at the charity stripe for her game-high 25 points.
“Haiden has had a nice season so far — not just tonight — she’s really been playing well,” stated Graves of Palmer who is now averaging 20.0 points per game. “There were times tonight we needed them [points].”
Palmer scored 13 of her 25 points in the second half, including nine in the final 13 minutes.
Her most important two points may have been the jumper she hit at the 12:48 mark of the final stanza to stop an Eagles 9-0 run - that had sliced a Bulldog double-figure lead to nine points – and push GU’s advantage back to double-digits. Her jumper began a 17-7 spurt that allowed Gonzaga’s lead to balloon to 19 points with 7:49 remaining.
“It was kind of a game of runs,” stated Graves. “There were times where we would build a lead and they would kind of cut into it, and then we would build it back up.”
Sophomore Kiara Kudron was also crucial in the Bulldogs second half run. The forward came off the bench to score eight of the 17 points in the run. She ended the game scoring a career-high 12 points – 10 in the second half – in 18 minutes of play.
“Kiara is great around the rim and she is so athletic and long, she can be a really good rebounder for us at times,” explained Graves. “It was nice to see her make some good offensive moves. That’s not typical of her, but she’s just a sophomore and she’s getting a lot better.”
Kudron also dished out a career-tying high four assists and had three boards.
Sherbert was key in helping the Bulldogs go into halftime with the 37-24 advantage. The guard/forward scored 13 of her 17 points, hitting 5-of-9 shots, while also grabbing two rebounds, dishing out an assist and making a steal.
The Eagles (0-3) were led by Laura Hughes and Lexi Nelson with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Jade Redmon, younger sister of Zag senior Jazmine Redmon, finished with three points, three rebounds and three assists.
Gonzaga now has 10 days between games. The Zags are back in action Saturday, Nov. 30 when they host Colgate University at 6 p.m.