Townsend leads #13/11 Gonzaga past Loyola Marymount, 78-52

SPOKANE, Wash. —The #13/11 Gonzaga women’s basketball team ran past visiting Loyola Marymount 78-52 in front of a sold out McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs became the first team in the nation to 20 wins and extended the nation’s best win streak to 18 games.

Gonzaga (20-1, 9-0 WCC) was led by a career-high 28 points from Jill Townsend, smashing her previous career high of 19 points. Townsend drained a career-high six treys in the win, finishing 6-of-8 from long range, to tie the most threes made by a Zag under head coach Lisa Fortier.

“[Jill] played great,” Fortier said. “She was focused. She’s the kind of person who is used to those big moments, a lion’s share of the load…This year for us she’s shown that she’s very capable.”

Jenn Wirth added her second-straight double-double with 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, along with a career-high tying four assists. Jessie Loera dished out a game-high five assists to move into fifth place all-time in career assists, surpassing Jazmine Redmon (400, 2010-14). Loera now has 403 career assists.

GU sunk a season-high 11 treys in the win, finishing 11-of-19 from long range. Junior Louise Forsyth, who finished 3-of-3 from long range, sunk all of her treys in a row in less than a 90 second span in the fourth quarter.

“It’s really fun just to be out there and to do my role, and when I have my open three, just being able to knock it down,” Forsyth said. “The better myself, Katie and Jill—all the wings—are shooting, the more open we are going to be, both inside and outside. It just really fosters great team play all around.”

The Zags outscored Loyola Marymount (7-15, 3-6 WCC) 33-9 from long range as well as claimed a 30-26 advantage inside the paint. Gonzaga held a 40-25 advantage on the glass and limited the Lions to 30.4 percent shooting for the game, including a 15.8 percent mark from long range.

Gonzaga shot 50.0 percent from the floor in the first half and 55.6 percent from long range, but the Bulldogs were unable to pull away from LMU due to 12 first-half turnovers. The Lions cut GU’s lead to seven (33-26) with 1:45 remaining in the opening half, but a fast-break layup from Katie Campbell as time expired gave the Bulldogs a nine-point advantage (35-26) heading into the break.

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 14 (54-40) by the end of the third period. In the fourth, Gonzaga limited its turnovers and locked down defensively, limiting LMU to 33.3 percent shooting for just 12 points in the final quarter. As a team, the Zags finished the game shooting 62.5 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from long range, doubling LMU’s scoring output with 24 points. Gonzaga led by as many as 28 points in the final quarter, cruising to the 78-52 win.

“We talked a lot about enduring,” Fortier said. “It’s a grind, and [Loyola Marymount] was going to pressure us. They’re good, and they are going to make runs of their own. We just had to finish it off and continue to run the floor, continue to execute.”

The Lions were led by Chelsey Gipson with 14 points while Ciera Ellington added 13 points and six rebounds.

Gonzaga continues play at home next week, beginning with San Diego Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m., inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Jill Townsend scores career-high 28 points in win over LMU
Jill Townsend scores career-high 28 points in win over LMU