COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gonzaga University women’s basketball sophomore Shaniqua Nilles was the hero Sunday afternoon for the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team, draining a baseline jumper as time expired to give the 24th ranked Bulldogs a heart-pounding 59-58 victory over Ohio State University.
The victory improved the Zags record 7-1 on the year and was their fifth-straight, while the Buckeyes, under the direction of former University of Washington head coach Kevin McGuff, fell to 6-5 overall.
Nilles, a Spokane Valley native, was the all-important factor for the Zags in the final 21 seconds.
Gonzaga trailed by one point with 32 seconds to play when Nilles, who had entered the game for the first time three minutes before hitting the fateful jumper, gave the Bulldogs the lead with 21 ticks left on a layup off a pretty pass by junior Sunny Greinacher. Ohio State took back the lead after an Ameryst Alston basket.
Then down by one with seven seconds left, Nilles received a pass from senior Haiden Palmer, made a move around her defender and calmly sank the game-winning 12-footer.
Greinacher scored a season-high 18 points and pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds to lead the charge Sunday. The Essen, Germany native tallied 10 of her points in the final half. Palmer added 13 points – her seventh-straight game in double-figures – and added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Alston paced Ohio State with 18 points and Martina Ellerbe added 11.
It was an impressive start to the game for Gonzaga. After the Buckeyes hit back-to-back buckets to begin the contest, the Zags rattled off 22-straight over the first next eight minutes to break open the 22-4 advantage. Ohio State missed 13 shots during this stretch and turned the ball over seven times.
The Buckeyes got Gonzaga’s lead down to 12 points at halftime at 32-20.
The Bulldogs continued to hold the lead early in the second half and had only allowed Ohio State to get within single-digits of the advantage three times in the first 10 minutes of the final stanza.
With the score at 51-39 with 9:19 to play, the Buckeyes started their comeback though. They used a 13-2 spurt to slice the Zags advantage to one at 53-52 with 3:23 left on the clock. Alston had five of the 13 points for OSU during the run.
Ohio State’s first lead of the game - since its 4-0 advantage at 18:36 of the opening half – came with 40 ticks remaining.
Gonzaga ended the contest shooting 35.3 percent (24-of-68) from the field, including 22.6 percent (7-of-26) from the charity stripe. Ohio State shot 40.7 percent (24-of-59) and 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Bulldogs return to action Tuesday when they play at the University of Wisconsin. Game time is set for 5 p.m. PT.