SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs ended the day the final unbeaten team in West Coast Conference play on Saturday, downing Loyola Marymount, 77-67, inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Zags led wire-to-wire with the game never being tied after the opening tip. Chandler Smith led the Zags with 19 points, hitting all 10 foul shots, joining Barta who achieved that feat twice last year, and Smith made four late to ice the game. She added seven boards to lead the squad, three assists and two steals. Zykera Rice, 14 points, and Barta, 16 points, joined her in double figures. Barta added five steals, her season high and tying the team season high this year. Rice was seven-of-12 from the field. Point guards Jessie Loera and Laura Stockton had nine points, three assists, and eight points, four assists, respectively.
The Lions did not score their first point until the 4:59 mark as GU opened on a 14-0 run. Smith scored the first six points of the game, added three rebounds, and GU dominated on the glass, 10-4 through the first five minutes. The Zags led by as much as 15 in the quarter, but went scoreless over the final 2:55 and LMU closed to 19-13 at the buzzer. GU shot 47 percent in the quarter, held LMU to 27 percent, and led on the glass 15-8. Smith led the Zags with eight points and three rebounds. LMU pulled within one, 19-18, early in the second quarter, but GU built it back to eight after a three from Smith at the 5:30 mark, giving her 11 points at that point. The Zags built that lead up to 16, 41-25, with one minute left in the quarter, thanks to threes from Smith, Barta, and Loera in what would be their largest lead. LMU scored a three-point play late and GU led 42-30 at the half. Gonzaga shot 47 percent from the field in the half, and was four-of-eight from three, with Barta hitting two. Smith finished the half with 15 points, six boards, and three assists, and Barta added 11 points and four rebounds. GU dominated the glass, 23-13, and scored 11 points off nine LMU turnovers.
LMU started the second half closing the GU lead to 46-44 after five minutes, before a layup from Barta put GU back ahead 48-44 with 4:16 left in the quarter. The Lions pulled to within two again, but Rice hit two jumpers and LeeAnne Wirth hit one in the final minute as GU led 58-52 after three. LMU’s Makenzie Cast hit four threes in the period, but GU was still shooting 47 percent on the night.
In the fourth, the Zags started on an 8-3 run with four points from Rice to extend their lead to 11 at the 7:15 mark. GU would manage the game from there, as Barta picked up her fourth and then fouled out late. LMU got within four with 1:30 left, but Emma Stach made two foul shots and Smith made four more to seal the 77-67 win. Gonzaga ended the night shooting 45 percent from the field.
The Zags were excellent from the foul line going 19-of-23 at an 82.6 percent clip. They outscored LMU in the paint, 32-22, and grabbed 11 steals for 24 points off turnovers.
Gonzaga (11-4, 4-0 WCC) will start next week on the road at Portland on Thursday at 7 pm. Live links are available at GoZags.com.