Gonzaga women dominate Portland, extend winning streak to nine games

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

SPOKANE, Wash. – The No. 21 Gonzaga women’s basketball team ran past visiting Portland 75-43 Saturday afternoon inside the McCarthey Athletic Center to remain unbeaten in West Coast Conference play.

Gonzaga (10-2, 5-0 WCC) was led by Jenn Wirth with 21 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season and fourth double-double in the last five games. LeeAnne Wirth added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Cierra Walker dished out a game- and season-high five assists.

“I thought our team did a really good job in all areas today,” Head Coach Lisa Fortier said. “We had a significant margin in rebounding, we didn’t turn the ball over which leads to easy offense [for Portland], we worked for good shots…I really liked how we handled the pressure; we were pressed for 40 minutes and had 12 turnovers. I think that’s pretty significant.”

As a team, the Bulldogs shot 48.3 percent from the floor while limiting Portland (6-4, 3-1 WCC) to 33.3 percent shooting for the game. Gonzaga dominated the glass, finishing with a 43-21 rebounding edge, while forcing 21 turnovers on the Pilots that led to 26 points. The Bulldogs also controlled the paint with a 40-22 scoring edge and scored nine second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds.

Gonzaga opened the game with 11 unanswered points until a trey from Portland’s Maddie Muhlheim at 5:19 ended the run. The Zags forced six turnovers on the Pilots in the opening stanza and shot 47.1 percent from the floor, extending their first-quarter lead to as many as 13. GU afforded the Pilots just seven first-quarter points, the fifth time this season the Zags have held their opponent to single-digits in a quarter.

The Bulldogs’ lock-down defense continued into the second period as they forced Portland to shoot just 33.3 percent from the floor including a 0-of-4 performance from long range. GU forced three turnovers in the second—which led to five points—while shooting 46.2 percent from the floor as a team. Jenn Wirth and Kayleigh Truong each scored six points in the quarter for the Zags, helping to extend GU’s lead to 19 points (36-17) to close the period.

Gonzaga’s dominance only escalated in the second half as it shot an even 50 percent from the floor while forcing 12 turnovers on the defensive end. GU continued to dominate inside, outscoring the Pilots 24-12, including 12 points from LeeAnne Wirth in the fourth period alone. The Bulldogs led by as many as 34 in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with a 32-point advantage at 75-43.

“I think that we’re kind of on a roll right now, but I don’t want to ignore the fact that my teammates are super hard working,” Jenn Wirth said. “They’re in the gym after practice every single day and before practice. I think it just is a testament to our hard work paying off. Like Lisa [Fortier] said, we can’t overlook anybody. This game was something where there was a little bit of a sting from last year, but moving forward we just have to keep playing hard.”

Alex Fowler led the Pilots with 11 points and six rebounds, while Haylee Andrews added 10 points.

Gonzaga heads out on the road for a two-game road swing next week, beginning with a Thursday night matchup at Santa Clara. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Check GoZags.com for up-to-date game time information.