Bulldogs Open WCC Play with 78-53 Victory Over Loyola Marymount
SPOKANE, Wash. — The Gonzaga women’s basketball team defeated Loyola Marymount 78-53 Saturday afternoon in the WCC opener at Gersten Pavilion. The Bulldogs overcame a slow first half, shooting a combined 62.8 percent in the second to cruise to the conference-opening win.
Gonzaga (12-1, 1-0 WCC) finished with four players in double figures paced by Zykera Rice with 15 points and eight rebounds. Laura Stockton , Katie Campbell and Jenn Wirth each added 10 points each. As a team, the Bulldogs owned a 39-31 edge on the glass while dominating the paint, 42-16. The Bulldogs forced LMU to shoot just 34.0 percent for the game while converting 30-of-63 attempts to shoot 47.6 percent.
Gonzaga struggled to connect in the opening period, shooting 35.7 percent from the floor for 10 points. Six first-quarter turnovers plagued the Bulldogs, resulting in seven of Loyola Marymount’s (7-6, 0-1 WCC) 17 points. The Lions also capitalized on four offensive boards for seven second-chance points. Jill Townsend sunk a jumper as time expired to cut the lead to seven (17-10) heading into the second quarter.
A quick 6-1 run in favor of LMU put Gonzaga behind 23-11, but the Bulldogs outscored the Lions 12-6 in the final minutes of the half to cut the lead to six (29-23) heading into the break.
“In the first half, we were letting their pressure dictate everything we did offensively, and that was slowing down our defense,” Fortier said. “To be honest, a defensive half of 29 points isn’t terrible…but the offense we had in the first half was terrible. There’s no nice way to say it. We were on our heels, we weren’t executing and we didn’t look like we were giving our best effort.”
Gonzaga exploded in the third, hitting 12-of-19 attempts to shoot 63.2 percent from the floor and outscore Loyola Marymount 29-10. The Bulldogs forced eight turnovers, capitalizing for 14 points to head into the final period with a 13-point lead (52-39).
The Zags continued to roll in the fourth, shooting 62.5 percent from the floor to outscore the Lions 26-14. Gonzaga limited LMU to 33.3percent shooting in the final period while forcing six turnovers to claim the 78-53 victory.
“After the second half, I was equally as proud of the way they responded,” Fortier said. “Obviously the second half was tremendous, both offensively and defensively, and our defensive effort. It was a much better job.”
Loyola Marymount was led by Gabby Green with a game-high 16 points while Cierra Belvin added 14. Chelsey Gipson rounded out the double-figure scoring effort with 10.
The Bulldogs continue play on the road as they face Pepperdine Monday, Dec. 31 at 12 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.