SPOKANE, Wash. - While there are a certain number of growing pains young teams must endure, they usually boast one advantage over more-seasoned squads. They can always call on a seemingly bottomless reserve of energy.
There is no science, of course, to actually validate this theory. But Gonzaga seems downright determined to prove it is true.
The young Bulldogs, showing few signs of weary legs, blew past Cal State Fullerton 83-44 on Sunday afternoon in a nonconference tussle at the McCarthey Athletic Center. It was the fourth game in eight days for the Zags, who improve to 9-2.
"I kind of feel like we had about 25 games the last three days," GU sophomore Sunny Greinacher said.
Gonzaga won three of its four games during its recent test of endurance. All three wins were double-digit decisions, with the biggest margin of victory coming against Fullerton. The Bulldogs held the Titans to just 15 second-half points on 21-percent shooting.
"I thought our energy in the second half was terrific," Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. "Even more important was our execution."
Earlier this season, the spry Bulldogs displayed their stamina by powering through five games in just seven days. They went 4-1 during that stretch.
Often times, when teams are nearing the end of a particularly grueling stretch, the thing that suffers the most is the legs, which usually drags down shooting percentages. But Sunday marked one of the Bulldogs' more efficient, and explosive, offensive showings of the season. Their 83 points represented a season high.
Gonzaga shot 42 percent from the field, including an 8-for-18 clip from behind the arc. Greinacher, a 6-foot-4 forward from Germany, paced the Zags with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. She has reached double figures twice during this four-game span.
"It feels good," Greinacher said. "It is definitely helping me to feel more confident ... and I think it's helping out the team, too."
Teams typically don't make it through these stretches without utilizing their depth, if they have some, and Gonzaga's reserves made significant contributions against Fullerton. The Bulldog bench accounted for 35 points and 22 rebounds.
"We got great production from the bench," Graves said. "They all made an impact tonight."
Fourteen players saw action for Gonzaga, with no one playing more than 29 minutes and everyone logging at least seven minutes. Three Bulldogs reached double-figure scoring and half of the 14 notched at least seven points.
"There were a lot of people who did a really great job," Greinacher said. "It's the most fun to play that way."
With their most-recent measure of fortitude behind them, the Bulldogs now have a week to finally rest. More importantly, they have much-needed time to prepare for an important home game against Ohio State. A win against the Buckeyes, who are 6-2 and ranked 20th in both major polls, could be a major boost to Gonzaga's NCAA Tournament résumé.