SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs dug a hole in the second quarter and could never quite climb out, as they lost at home to Saint Mary’s on Saturday, 72-56, their first West Coast Conference loss this year.
Jill Barta led Gonzaga with 19 points and four rebounds, and Zykera Rice scored 10 and matched Barta’s four boards. Emma Stach was two-for-four from three and scored 10 points, and Laura Stockton dished four assists. The Gaels shot well, at a 56.6 percent clip, and held Gonzaga to 29.5 percent shooting. Gonzaga did force 21 turnovers for 11 steals, and only gave it away seven times themselves. The silver lining on the day for GU was they clinched a share of the WCC Regular-Season Title, with BYU falling at San Francisco. The Zags have now won 12 of the last 13 WCC Titles and this marked their 14th in program history. One more win this year will make the Zags outright champions.
The Gaels scored inside early, scoring their first 10 points in the paint and leading 10-6 after five minutes. Barta drilled a late three and GU forced seven turnovers in the quarter, trailing 15-11 after one. SMC shot 50 percent in the first quarter and led on the glass, 13-5, with five offensive rebounds. Barta scored nine in the quarter. Saint Mary’s extended their lead to 12, 25-13, four minutes into the second quarter, and a three made it 13. The Gaels went on to lead by as much as 24 in the half, which would be their largest, taking a 41-20 lead into halftime as Barta hit a late three to finish with 14 at the half. SMC hit six threes in the half and shot 61 percent from the field. They led on the glass, 25-10, with 18 points in paint, and 11 assists. GU did force 12 turnovers with six steals, led by three from Barta.
Chandler Smith opened the half with a three, and after SMC recovered, the Zags went on a 6-0 run to get the deficit down to 13, 50-37, with 4:32 left, with four points coming from Rice. The Gaels built the lead back up to 19 with one minute left, but a three-point play from Jill Townsend made it 57-43 after three. Saint Mary’s shot 55.6 percent in the quarter, but Gonzaga forced four turnovers and GU made two threes. The Gaels built their lead back to 21 in the fourth quarter, as GU could not overcome the deficit.
Saint Mary’s dominated the rebounds, 47-21, and points in the paint, 38-16. The Zags shot well from the line, going 13-of-15. Townsend scored four points and gave GU their surge in the third quarter as the sellout crowd got going.
Gonzaga (20-5, 13-1) had their 15-game win streak snapped, but will look to rebound at Loyola Marymount next Thursday at 7 pm. Live links are available at GoZags.com.
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