STOCKTON, Calif. – The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team bounced back from its opening West Coast Conference loss to defeat league newcomer University of the Pacific 83-68 Monday in Stockton, Calif. The Zags improved their overall record to 11-3 and its WCC mark to 1-1 on the year. The Tigers fell to 5-7 overall and 0-2 in conference.
Junior Keani Albanez led the Bulldogs to the 15-point victory scoring a career-high 21 points. The guard drained 6-of-8 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and sank a career-high eight free throws. Two other Zags broke into double-digits; junior Sunny Greinacher and senior Haiden Palmer each contributed 13 points.
The Tigers were led by Kiki Moore with a game-high 24 points. Kendall Kenyon added a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Gonzaga used a 13-0 run early in the first half to break open a 23-9 advantage at 9:25.
Two free throws by Moore halted the run, but back-to-back buckets by sophomore Shelby Cheslek - the second of which was turned into an old-fashion 3-point play - had the Zags leading 33-13 with less than seven minutes remaining before halftime.
Pacific got within 10 points of the lead – at 35-25 with 3:40 left on the clock – but the play of Albanez down the stretch allowed the Bulldogs to go into intermission up 43-32. Albanez scored five of the Zags final six points, including hitting 3-of-4 free throws.
Albanez and sophomore Kiara Kudron took control offensively in the early minutes of the second half, combining for 11 of the Zags opening 16 points which ballooned their lead to 17-points at 59-42 with 12:48 remaining in the contest.
Junior Sunny Greinacher – who only had two points in the first 20 minutes and just four points total in GU’s loss at Saint Mary’s College Saturday – rattled off nine-straight points for the Zags late in the half, eight of which came on jumpers, to give Gonzaga its largest lead of the game at 24 points.
The Tigers did get within 12 points of the Bulldogs lead with 1:26 remaining but it was too little too late.
Gonzaga shot an impressive 56.9 percent (29-of-51) from the field, including 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from beyond the 3-point arc, and sank 62.5 percent (20-of-32) from the charity stripe.
For the second-straight game GU lost the battle of the boards, this time 36-34.
The Bulldogs held the Tigers to 37.3 percent (22-of-59) shooting, including 8.3 percent (1-of-12) on 3-pointers. Pacific did hit 23-of-30 from the free throw line.
The Zags played without starting point guard Jazmine Redmon who suffered a sprained ankle against Saint Mary’s.
Junior Danielle Walter and Maiki Viela logged the point guard minutes, and combined for nine points and seven assists.
Gonzaga stays on the road and plays at the University of Portland Friday. Game time is set for 7 p.m.