LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The Gonzaga women’s basketball team eased to a 77-46 victory over San Francisco in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals inside the Orleans Arena Monday.
The Zags (25-6) finished with five players in double-digit scoring led by Kiara Kudron’s 15 points. She was 7-of-9 from the field, and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. Zykera Rice made six of her seven shots from the field and finished with 13 points. Jill Barta added 12 points, Laura Stockton had 11, and Emma Stach chipped in 10. Stockton dished out a game-high six assists.
After making 65 percent from the field in the first half, Gonzaga ended the game at 51.7 percent. The Bulldogs limited USF to 26 percent shooting. The Dons were just 7-of-31 from the field in the first half. GU stifled San Francisco from behind-the-arc, holding the Dons to 4-of-30 (13.3 percent) from the three-point range.
“I am so proud of our team defense,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “I love the way we came out and the first quarter set the tone for the game.”
Kudron scored on the first two possessions for GU and it was 9-0 GU before USF scored at the 5:30 mark. Barta scored four-straight points to make it 11-2 midway through the quarter. Kudron was four-for-four from the field to start the game, and gave GU a 15-4 lead on a layup at the two-minute mark. Emma Wolfram found Rice on the high-low with one minute left in the quarter for a three-point play. The Zags scored twice more and led 22-4 after one. Kudron finished with eight points in the quarter and GU held USF leading scorer Rachel Howard scoreless. Gonzaga shot 67 percent in the quarter with six assists.
Howard finally scored at the 7:54 mark of the second quarter. Kudron hit another shot and Elle Tinkle drilled a corner three making it 27-6 Zags, forcing a USF timeout. Stockton found Barta in transition for the and-one bucket and nailed a pull-up jumper to keep the pressure on, 34-6. The Zags completed a 19-0 run holding USF scoreless for almost five minutes, leading 41-8 with two minutes left in the half. The Dons found a little life late, but GU still led 47-17 at the half, their second-largest halftime lead this year.
Kudron finished the half six-for-seven from the field, scoring 12 points and Rice added nine points, going four-of-five. Kudron led with five rebounds and Barta chipped in seven points. GU shot 65 percent from the field, held USF to 23 percent, won on the glass 22-13, and outscored the Dons in the paint 28-6. GU finished with 11 assists, Stockton leading with four.
Stach nailed an early three and three more points from Kudron had GU ahead 57-22 five minutes into the second half. GU blocked USF shots on two-straight possessions, Stockton beat the shot clock, and they advanced their lead to 63-24 with three minutes left. They led 68-32 after three quarters. The lead never dropped below 29, as GU won 77-46.
Rachel Howard led San Francisco (18-13) with 18 points and five assists on six-of-20 shooting. The Zags had nine players score and 11 grab rebounds, with no one playing over 22 minutes.
The Zags had a 43-38 edge on the glass, and outscored USF 40-20 in the paint. The GU bench outscored their counterparts, 26-11.
With the win, Gonzaga won their 25th game for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons, and 10th time in program history.
The Bulldogs will face the winner of the second semifinal between third-seeded Saint Mary’s and second-seeded BYU in the conference tournament finals Tuesday at 1 p.m. The championship will be broadcast live on ESPNU and online at Watch ESPN.