(Editor’s note: Gonzaga media release)
MALIBU, Calif. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs secured a perfect West Coast Conference road record with a 67-48 win at Pepperdine on Saturday, their 11th-straight win on the road.
Zykera Rice led the Zags in points with 16 and added five rebounds. Laura Stockton filled the stat sheet with 11 points, and led the Zags with nine assists and eight rebounds, career highs in both. Jill Barta scored 13 with eight rebounds. LeeAnne Wirth secured seven boards and GU pulled away in the second half after being tied at halftime.
Stockton paced Gonzaga with the first three points of the game as the score was tied at three, three minutes in. Chandler Smith nailed a corner three as GU jumped ahead, 6-5, midway through the quarter. GU held Pepperdine scoreless for over two minutes, but the Waves led 7-6, until Stockton hit a three. The Zags picked up steam late in the quarter scoring on four-straight possessions. GU led 17-16 after one. Stockton led GU with six points, and the Zags shot 58 percent from the field, but had seven turnovers.
Emma Stach drilled a three to start the second quarter, but the Waves came back to tie at 20. The Waves jumped back ahead 24-22, as the Zags went scoreless for over three minutes. Barta tied the game with an inbounds jumper out of a timeout. The Waves went scoreless for almost five minutes, but still led 26-24 with two minutes left. The teams went to the half tied at 28. The Zags shot 42.3 percent from the field. Rice, Stockton, and Barta scored six points each and GU held Pepperdine to one for nine from three. GU had 11 turnovers but had nine assists, led by five from Stockton.
The Zags grabbed a 33-31 lead three minutes into the third quarter, thanks to four offensive rebounds. Barta hit a three to extend it to 36-32. Both teams went scoreless for over two minutes until Rice hit a transition jumper for the 38-34 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. Stockton stood up her opponent on defense, grabbed the board, then went coast-to-coast for the and-one bucket as GU led 41-34, and led 43-36 with one minute left. An offensive rebound from Jill Townsend led to a jumper from Townsend to beat the third quarter buzzer, and GU led 46-38. Rice had seven points in the quarter and GU had no turnovers in the third. Rice finished with 13 points and Barta had 11. Stockton added two more assists to move to seven, with GU having 14 as a team.
LeeAnne Wirth opened the fourth with a step-through in the post and GU had their first double-digit lead. A three-point play from Rice extended that to 13, 51-38. Jessie Loera and Townsend hit jumpers in transition as they lead ballooned to 17, forcing a Pepperdine timeout at the 6:12 mark. Barta quieted a quick Wave 4-0 run with a layup. The Zags held Pepperdine scoreless for over four minutes and led by as much as 22, winning 67-48.
“We were a little slow starting today, but we played a much better second half” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “Once we started moving the ball and making better decisions, we got great shots. We also had much better defensive focus in the second half. We need to keep improving and be at our best going into the end of the regular season and the conference tournament.”
The Zags shot 45.8 percent in the game, but 64.3 percent in the fourth quarter, holding the Waves to 29.6 percent shooting in the contest. After having 11 turnovers at halftime, GU only gave it away four times in the second half, and forced seven second-half Pepperdine turnovers. GU led on the glass, 42-32, and in the paint, 30-16.
Gonzaga (22-5, 15-1 WCC) will finish out the regular season at home next week, with San Diego coming on Thursday at 6 pm. Live links are available at GoZags.com.