Gonzaga women blow out North Alabama to wrap up non-conference schedule

Gonzaga is back, looking to take the final step to a title

LAS VEGAS –The No. 23/25 Gonzaga women’s basketball team ran past North Alabama 87-57 in the final game of the Holiday Hoops Classic at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas. With the win, Gonzaga concluded the non-conference season with a 5-2 overall record.

Gonzaga was led by double-doubles from LeeAnne Wirth and Jenn Wirth as LeeAnne finished with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds while Jenn added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jill Townsend and Melody Kempton also finished in double-figures with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

“I loved the way we started the game today,” Head Coach Lisa Fortier said. “We came out with intensity and set the tone on the glass and in transition right away. Our depth is one of our assets, and we were able to utilize it today. It was a great way to finish off non-conference.”

As a team, the Zags set new records under Head Coach Lisa Fortier for assists and rebounding margin. Gonzaga dished out 30 assists, breaking the previous mark of 27 assists during Fortier’s tenure. The Bulldogs also finished with a 56-20 rebounding edge for a +36 margin, eclipsing the previous mark of +35 set back on Jan. 16, 2016 at San Diego. The Bulldogs also dominated North Alabama (1-7) in the paint, finishing with a 56-18 scoring advantage inside while outscoring the Lions’ bench 32-13.

GU started fast, racing out to a 17-2 advantage 6:30 minutes into the first period. The Bulldogs shot an even 55 percent from the field in the first 10 minutes, due in part to a 4-of-5 performance from LeeAnne Wirth. Wirth added a perfect 2-of-2 from the charity stripe to record 10 points in the first quarter alone. The Bulldogs held the Lions to 37.5 percent shooting, including 25 percent from long range (3-12), and led by as many as 15 points before a trey from North Alabama’s Oliva Noah to close the period cut the lead to 12 (24-12).

Gonzaga cooled off a bit in the second stanza, but a dominant effort on the glass helped the Zags maintain a double-digit advantage throughout the majority of the period. The Bulldogs posted a 17-7 advantage in rebounding, including eight offensive rebounds which led to seven second-chance points. A layup from Jenn Wirth with three seconds remaining gave the Zags a 40-26 lead heading into halftime.

The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 19-5 run over the first four minutes to extend their lead to 28 points. A layup from senior Gillian Barfield with 42 seconds remaining in the third pushed the lead to 30 (71-41), and less than a minute into the fourth a layup from Townsend pushed the lead to 31 (75-44). The Zags shot 57.6 percent in the second half while limiting North Alabama to 33.3 percent shooting to push cruise to the 87-57 victory.

North Alabama was led in scoring by Jaila Roberts with 15 points while Sakyia White added 11. As a team, the Lions finished 35.2 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from long range.

Gonzaga will return to action with West Coast Conference play after the holiday break. The Bulldogs are slated to face Loyola Marymount on Monday, Dec. 28. Tipoff for that contest is yet to be determined. Check GoZags.com for up-to-date game time information.