SAN DIEGO - Laura Stockton found a cutting Jill Barta in traffic as time expired and Barta kissed the ball off the backboard for the 57-55 come-from-behind win against San Diego from the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Thursday night.
Barta finished with 17 points and Stockton added 14, including eight in the second half. After Gonzaga went down 55-50, they held USD scoreless for the final 2:47 and won on the Barta game-winner. Kiara Kudron led with nine rebounds and three assists. The Zags scored 38 points in the paint, boosted by seven from Emma Wolfram off the bench. That GU bench scored 14 points compared to four for the Toreros.
The Zags had three steals through the first five minutes and got good locks at the rim on offense, but shot just 36 percent and led 9-6. The Zags finished the quarter five-of-18 from the field, but hung close forcing five turnovers to trail 11-14 after one. USD briefly built the lead to seven, 20-13, but a hustle rebound from Kudron and pass to Emma Stach cut it to five. USD responded with a three and led 27-19 with four minutes left in the second quarter. A Barta layup and Stockton jumper helped close the gap for GU, as they allowed no USD field goals over the final 3:30 and trailed 24-28 at the half. Barta finished the half with seven points and Stockton had six, as GU scored 16 points in the paint but did not hit a three-pointer.
USD extended their lead to 36-28, as Stockton scored four third-quarter points for the Zags. Kudron set Emma Wolfram up on back-to-back buckets, and took a charge, and Wolfram followed a miss to cut it to 38-36. USD added one to their lead and led 45-41 at the end of the quarter. Barta opened the fourth with a three, and three minutes later hit two free throws to cut it to 47-46 USD. USD responded with a three-point play to go back up four. A layup from Kudron and then a backdoor pass from Kudron setup Stockton to tie the game at 50 with 3:30 left, but USD responded with a three on their end and two free throws to go back up five. The Toreros would not score again. A free throw from Barta and layup from Stockton cut it back to two, 55-53, and then Stockton found Tinkle in transition to tie it at 55 with 46 seconds left. GU got a stop at their end, then Stockton got caught in a trap but found Barta for the game-winner as time expired, 57-55.
“Our team just hung around and kept ourselves in the game,” GU head coach Lisa Fortier said. “We never put our heads down. This team knows how to battle and battle and battle. I am really happy for our players. You have to be tough to win on the road and tonight we were.”
The Zags improved as the game went and shot 41 percent from the field, and limited USD to 37 percent shooting. USD shot 20 foul shots, making 13, compared to five-of-eight for GU. It was the first buzzer beater win for the Zags since Elle Tinkle beat Eastern Washington at the buzzer in 2014.
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