SPOKANE, Wash. – On a day that honored the seniors, the junior class of the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team stepped up to allow those players to close out their home career with a victory. Juniors Sunny Greinacher and Lindsay Sherbert combined for 42 points and led the Bulldogs to a gritty 81-77 victory over the University of the Pacific Saturday afternoon.
The win capped off a perfect record at the McCarthey Athletic Center for the 22nd ranked Bulldogs, finishing 16-0 in the Kennel. It’s the third undefeated season at the McCarthey Athletic Center for Gonzaga, joining the 2004-05 team that went 15-0 in the first year the building was open and the 2009-10 squad who also went 15-0. Ironically, the Zag men’s basketball team also closed out the year undefeated at home with a 15-0 mark.
The 10-time West Coast Conference Champions ended the regular-season with a 26-4 record and a 16-2 mark in league play. League newcomer Pacific closed out the year at 17-11 and 12-6 in the WCC; claiming third place.
The contest looked like it was going to be an easy victory for Gonzaga as it jumped out to a quick 17 point advantage 10 minutes into the first half but Pacific not only battled back but took the lead mid-way through the second.
“They are a good team,” explained Zag head coach Kelly Graves. “They came in having won six in a row, nine of 10 in conference play. They’re 7-1 on the road coming into this game. They beat BYU on the road, they beat Saint Mary’s on the road — we didn’t. So these guys can play, they are a good basketball team.”
Both Greinacher and senior Stephanie Golden – who got the start for GU Saturday – were the catalysts in getting the Zags their early 17-point advantage. The two combined for 11 of Gonzaga’s first 27 points and propelled it to a 27-10 edge at 9:54.
Pacific – playing in the McCarthey Athletic Center for the first time in school history – settled down after the initial punch by Gonzaga and rattled off an impressive 24-9 spurt over the next seven minutes to slice the Zags lead to just two points at 36-34 with 1:54 remaining before intermission.
Tiger Madison Parrish had 10 points in the run and KiKi Moore had nine points. Pacific drained four 3-pointers in the run, including Hallie Eackles’ that put the lead at two.
A jumper by Greinacher and one-of-two made free throws by senior Jazmine Redmon stopped the Tigers push and put the Bulldogs halftime advantage at 39-34.
The Zags momentum didn’t last long though as Pacific opened the final half with a 13-4 run. That spurt – lead by Eackles’ seven points - gave Pacific its first lead of the game since the 18:53 mark of the first half.
The game went on to have six ties, four lead changes and no team having a bigger lead than two points until Gonzaga finally broke through with a 6-2 run that gave it the lead - one it would never give up - at 57-53 with 9:47 remaining.
The final bucket of the run came from Sherbert. That layup started a personal 7-0 run by the Temecula, Calif., native. She would have 13 of the Bulldogs 17 points in their all-to-important run to give them some breathing room at 72-63 with 3:28 on the clock. Her final points of the game were on dagger from 3-point land that put the Zags advantage at nine.
Gonzaga went on to sink seven of eight free throws in the final two minutes to seal the four point victory.
Greinacher ended the game with a career-high 24 points; her first double-figure game in seven contests. She hit 8-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the charity stripe. She also grabbed seven boards and had three assists. Sherbert chipped in 18 points – 15 in the final half – and had six boards.
Senior Haiden Palmer added another impressive game of 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Pacific was led by the career-high 33 points of Moore. Eackles added 20.
Gonzaga now heads into the WCC Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs will play Friday, March 7 at 6 p.m. at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Their possible opponents are still being decided with the final day of league action.
The afternoon honored the play of Palmer, Redmon and Golden, who have amassed 112 win in their four-years at Gonzaga, 59 WCC victories, and four-straight WCC regular season championships.
“This group of seniors has been really important to us,” explained Graves after the contest. “The first year they were here, we go to the Elite Eight, so they are our link to that team. Obviously, the wins and losses, the championships and everything they mean to us on the court is amazing. But they have been special off the court. I think these three get what being a student-athlete at Gonzaga is all about. They have great futures.”