PORTLAND, Ore. – The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team rebounded from a tough loss at Saint Mary’s College last Thursday with an impressive 82-51 West Coast Conference win at the University of Portland Monday at the Chiles Center. The victory improved the Bulldogs league record to 3-1 and they are now 13-5 overall. The Pilots dropped to 5-12 overall and 0-4 in the WCC.
It was a 3-pointer by sophomore Keani Albanez that gave Gonzaga the momentum it needed midway through the first half to turn a close game into double-figure lead. Albanez drained her 3-pointer at the 11:12 mark to halt the Pilots 9-2 run – which had gotten the home team within one point of the tying the game – and start a 13-2 spurt to push the Bulldog edge to 28-16 with 3:24 left in the opening 24 minutes. Five different players scored in the all-important run, including senior Taelor Karr who had two free throws to cap off the run.
Gonzaga kept its lead above double-figures for the remainder of the first half and Karr’s runner in the paint with time expiring gave the Zags their 34-20 halftime advantage.
As a team, the Bulldogs shot 46.4 percent from the field, sinking 13-of-28 field goals. It was a drastic difference from the 29.4 percent (10-of-34) it shot last Thursday in its loss to Saint Mary’s College. They were however subpar at the free throw line, sinking only 5-of-11 and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 10 times.
Portland was held to 29.6 percent shooting in the first half, hitting 8-of-27.
Junior Haiden Palmer led the charge for Gonzaga with a first-half high 11 points. She also had two assists and two steals.
It was Karr that stepped up impressively in the second half. When Portland’s Kari Luttinen converted a four-point play - after hitting a 3-pointer and the free throw after getting fouled – to cut GU’s lead to 11 at 39-28 Karr followed with a 3-pointer of her own – the first of three in four Gonzaga possessions – to push the Zags lead to 20 points at 50-30 with 14:05 to play in the game. The only other player to score in the Bulldogs 11-0 run was junior Stephanie Golden with a lay-in.
A subsequent 14-4 run by Gonzaga had the visiting team up 28 points at 66-38 with 9:01 left in the game. Junior Jazmine Redmon started things off with a layup – the first of six players to score for the Bulldogs. The run was ended with a bucket by freshman Chelsea Waters.
Gonzaga continued to roll and grabbed its largest lead of the game – 34 points at 82-48 – on sophomore Maiki Viela’s second 3-pointer of the game with 1:39 to play.
All 14 players saw action for the Bulldogs with all but two players scoring a point. Karr led all scorers with 20 points, 16 coming in the second half. Palmer chipped in 13 points, along with four assists, three steals and five rebounds. Albanez came off the bench to chip in 10 points.
GU finished the game shooting 47.0 percent from the field (31-of-66).
The Pilots were led by Luttinen with 15 points. Amy Pupa finished the game with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Bulldogs now focus their attention on BYU who visits the McCarthey Athletic Center. Game time is set for 6 p.m.