No. 18 Gonzaga women complete comeback in taking down South Dakota

Gonzaga will face Tennessee in Jimmy V Classic
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SIOUX FALLS, SD – The No. 18/20 Gonzaga women’s basketball team focused on one possession at a time to erase an 18-point deficit and earn a gutsy 54-50 victory over South Dakota Monday afternoon at the Sanford Pentagon. The win marked the final game of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic.

“I’m just really happy with the way that our team fought back,” head women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier said. “Obviously we were not at our best in our first quarter, not really very good in our second quarter. But by the time we got to the third quarter, I thought we were doing some things really well and executing really well out of timeouts. I was happy to see that our team is gritty and tough, kind of like I thought we were.”

Gonzaga (1-1) was led in scoring by Jill Townsend who drained 20 points in the win, shooting 55.6 percent from the field with a 2-of-3 performance from long range. The senior guard added a perfect 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line, making all six of her attempts in the final 90 seconds of the game. Kayleigh Truong added 12 points for the Zags, adding six rebounds and one assist in the win.

The Bulldogs controlled the glass 37-32 and outscored the Coyotes 22-20 in the paint.

GU struggled to score in the first half, shooting 20 percent from the floor for 16 total points. The Zags were able to convert 3-of-4 attempts at the charity stripe after drawing five fouls on South Dakota, and the Bulldogs controlled the glass with 18 rebounds, four of them offensive. The Coyotes led by as many as 18 in the first half, but a 7-1 run in favor of the Zags in the final 5:29 cut the lead to 12 (28-16) heading into the break.

Cue the 180-degree shift in the second half, as the Zags outscored Coyotes 38-22, shooting 46.1 percent from the floor while limiting USD to 28.6 shooting. The Bulldogs put together a 10-2 run coming out of the break to cut the Coyotes’ lead to four, 30-26, but a quick 6-0 run favor of South Dakota put the Yotes up by 10 with 3:33 to go. Melody Kempton scored the final five points of the quarter as the Zags trailed by seven (38-31) with 10 minutes remaining.

The Zags came on strong in the final quarter, scoring 23 points off 50 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line, making 9-of-10 attempts down the stretch. A 7-0 run erased the lead, and jumper from Kayleigh Truong at the 7:29 mark gave GU the lead (40-38) for the first time since 8:42 mark of the first quarter. Three minutes later, a jumper from Jenn Wirth extended the lead to seven (47-40), but a two-minute scoring drought and a 6-0 run in favor of USD cut the lead to one with 1:53 to go.

Although GU didn’t make a field goal for the remainder of the game, both Townsend and Jenn Wirth converted 7-of-8 at the charity stripe to seal the victory, 54-50.

“This kind of showed what our team was all about,” Townsend said. “We came in here, we hadn’t had a game, played South Carolina to the end. Then today, found ourselves down 18 at one point and just clawed our way back, possession by possession. So, we learned a lot about our team, our chemistry, the fight that each one of us has. I think we’re pretty happy leaving South Dakota knowing that.”

South Dakota (0-2) finished with four players in double figures, led by Chloe Lamb with 18 points. Liv Korngable added 16 points, while Hannah Sjerven and Maddie Krull added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Gonzaga returns to play Dec. 6 at South Dakota State in Brookings, SD. Tipoff is TBA. Check GoZags.com for up-to-date information on game times.