SPOKANE, Wash. – It was another all-around impressive performance for the Gonzaga University women's basketball team as the 24th ranked Zags easily defeated visiting Fairfield University 82-42 Monday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Bulldogs, who improved to 5-1 on the year, held an opponent below 45 points for the second-consecutive game and won by 35 or more for the third time this season. Gonzaga defeated Colgate University 81-31 Saturday and defeated UT Martin, Nov. 10 91-54.
The game, which Gonzaga lead from start to finish, was a tight one early on and just a 6-point GU lead at 27-21 with 7:09 remaining in the first.
It was after the back-to-back buckets by the Stags – that pulled the visiting team within six - that the Bulldogs seemed to turn up their intensity. Gonzaga closed out the final 7:09 of the first stanza on a 15-0 run; allowed Fairfield to get up just three shots and forced them to turn the ball over eight times.
The Bulldogs impressive offensive and defensive execution had them go into the locker room up 21 at 42-21.
"This year our defense is becoming more of who we are, our identity and now we're starting to understand we can score off the defense," explained Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves of his team's make-up. "The intensity is what I'm really proud of. We have so many versatile players it makes the defense easy. We can be a lot more aggressive because if we get in trouble somebody can pick that player up."
Gonzaga scored eight of their final 15 points off Fairfield's miscues.
The Zags continued their strong play in the second half and pushed the Stags scoreless streak to over 10 minutes. Fairfield finally scored at the 17:15 mark but by that time Gonzaga had push their advantage to 29 points.
Ultimately, the Bulldogs used a 43-8 run to grab a 41-point advantage – at 70-29 – with a little over nine minutes to play in the contest.
"I thought tonight we executed for the first 28 minutes as well tonight as we ever have," stated Graves. "Almost everything we ran we got something good off of, we got what we wanted out of it. Inside, outside we were calling special plays for special players so I thought our execution was terrific."
For the game, Gonzaga forced 22 Fairfield turnovers, had 18 steals and scored 30 points off the miscues. The Bulldogs ended the game with just six turnovers themselves, including one in the first half, and only allowed the Stags to steal the ball from them once.
The Zags had four of their five starters finish in double-figure points, led by senior Haiden Palmer and junior Sunny Greinacher with 18 and 14 points, respectively.
Senior point guard Jazmine Redmon chipped in six assists and made five steals in 24 minutes of action, while sophomore Shelby Cheslek added four points, six rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals.
For the third-straight game, and fourth overall, Gonzaga shot above 50 percent from the field finishing the contest hitting 52.3 percent (34-of-65).
Fairfield (3-3) was led by Katie Cizynski with 17 points.
Gonzaga returns to action Friday when it hosts Portland State University. Game is set for 6 p.m.