No. 24/22 Gonzaga WBB cruise to victory over WSU, 76-53

No. 24/22 Gonzaga WBB cruise to victory over WSU, 76-53

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team cruised to the 76-53 win over visiting Washington State Sunday afternoon at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs sit at 9-1 through 10 games, marking the best start in program history.

Gonzaga (9-1) finished with five players in double-figures, led by Jill Townsend with 13 points off 6-of-8 from the floor. LeeAnne Wirth added a career-high 12 in 19 minutes while Katie Campbell finished with 11. Zykera Rice and Laura Stockton rounded out the double-figure scoring with 10 each. The Bulldogs won the battle of the boards with a 36-25 advantage, led by a game- and season-high 10 from Melody Kempton. The Bulldogs shot 52.5 percent from the floor while limiting WSU to 40 percent shooting.

“They’re steady, they have teammates that can do things, they rely on each other,” head women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier said of her team. “I think that allows them to be a little more comfortable because they don’t have the weight of team on their shoulders.”

The Zags were ice cold to open the first period, netting just three of their first 11 attempts. With 4:48 remaining, Washington State scored seven unanswered to claim a 13-6 lead with 2:32 to go, but a 6-0 Bulldog run cut the Cougars’ lead to one (13-12) heading into the second period.

Gonzaga’s cold shooting did not last long as the Zags converted 10-for-15 field goals in the second to shoot 66.7 percent. With 3:30 to go, Laura Stockton found Jill Townsend for the easy layup to give the Zags a three-point lead (25-22); WSU countered with a layup 20 seconds later to cut the lead to one. With 2:40 to go, another layup from Townsend ignited a 9-0 Bulldog run to put Gonzaga in front 34-24 heading into the break.

The Bulldogs limited Washington State to 10 third-quarter points and extended their lead to 18 (52-34) to close the period. Gonzaga shot 76.9 percent in the final quarter and led by as many as many as 28 in the final quarter, cruising to the 76-53 win.

“I’m really proud of them,” Fortier said. “I think the final three quarters offensively were tremendous, if you look at what we shot. The first quarter, we were stopping ourselves a little bit; credit Washington State’s defense as well. But we weren’t moving the ball, we were taking some one-on-one shots that were a little ill-advised and not in rhythm. Once we started sharing the basketball and crashing the offensive glass, I think we really didn’t look back too much after that.”

Gonzaga continues play on the road next week at Missouri State on Dec. 16. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. PT in Springfield, Mo.