SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Zags methodically built a lead over Santa Clara on Saturday afternoon on the road, winning 63-51 to move to 2-0 in early West Coast Conference play. Jill Barta had her seventh double-double of the year to lead GU with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Zykera Rice joined in her in double figures with 10 points and Chandler Smith had nine. Both Rice and Smith grabbed five boards. GU shot 46 percent against the stingy Broncos and were 13-of-15 from the line. GU out-rebounded SCU 37-31.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs turned the ball over on their first three possessions and scored at the 7:55 mark to make the score 2-0 as GU converted after a Santa Clara technical foul. Barta followed up the next shot and GU was up 4-0. The Zags scored on their next three possessions and led 10-4 at the five-minute mark. The Bulldogs fought off a two-and-a-half minute scoreless streak, and led 12-10 with two minutes left in the quarter. Paint jumpers from Rice and Jenn Wirth spurred a 7-0 GU run to finish the quarter. GU shot 54 percent in the period and Barta led with eight points as GU led 17-10.
The first four minutes of the second quarter was characterized by fouls and turnovers for both squads as GU led 21-14. Katie Campbell hit a three right off the bench as the Zags jumped ahead 24-16 at the 5:30 mark. Both teams went scoreless for a three-minute stretch, but Barta broke it with a free throw, and GU led 25-18 with two minutes left in the half. The Zags extended the SCU scoreless streak to over five minutes and Barta was fouled from three at the buzzer, making all three to lead 30-18 at the half, their largest in the game. Barta finished the half with 12 points to lead all scorers, and GU shot 40 percent from the field and 9-11 from the line. Gonzaga in turn held SCU to 30 percent from the field and 13 percent from three.
Rice opened the half with four-straight points and Barta dialed a deep three as GU led 37-21 three minutes in. The deep three from Barta launched a 9-0 GU run as they seized control 41-21 with six minutes left in the quarter. SCU trimmed the lead down to nine on an 11-0 run and Gonzaga led 49-34 after three, thanks to a steal and score from Smith and jumper from Rice. Two-and-a-half minutes into the fourth GU had extended their lead to 56-34, their largest to that point. SCU was able to get the deficit down 12 but Laura Stockton hit a three to go back up 63-48 with 1:30 left. Gonzaga took the 63-51 win to end the road trip 2-0.
“Today was a grinder,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “We had a hard time getting into a rhythm. Our defense really carried us for most of the game. Over the course of the season, you have to adapt to different teams and I’m happy that we were able to find a way against a tough Santa Clara team, on the road, today.”
Gonzaga had nine players score and 10 grab rebounds and held SCU to 34 percent shooting.
Gonzaga (9-4, 2-0 WCC) will return home to face Pepperdine, also 2-0 in conference play, at 6 pm on Thursday. Live links are available at GoZags.com.