SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs made it 11-straight wins and defense led the way again on Thursday night as they defeated Portland, 75-36, at home.
Portland’s 36 points marked the lowest point total allowed by Gonzaga this season, besting the 44 they gave up just one game ago against Santa Clara. That defense forced 19 turnovers, one short of the third-straight 20+ turnover game for GU. It turned into 27 points off turnovers and 13 steals, led by four from Jessie Loera. Offensively, Jill Barta was fantastic for GU, hitting eight-of-her-12 shots for 21 points and a team-leading seven rebounds. Zykera Rice, 13, and Loera, 10, joined her in double figures, both shooting above 50 percent from the field themselves.
“I like the way our team is defending right now,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “To hold them to the percentages that we did, is something to be very proud of.”
The game started slow on the offensive end with Portland grabbing a small lead, but Barta scored six-straight beginning at the six-minute mark and GU led 11-8 after one, scoring five points off five turnovers to go with two blocks. Laura Stockton hit a jumper in transition four minutes into the second quarter to put Gonzaga up, 17-12. The Zags picked it up from there, going on a 14-6 run, hitting four of five at one point as Barta hit 13 points, and Emma Stach drilled two threes for the Zags. The Portland turnover total hit nine as GU scored 12 points off those turnovers to lead 31-18 with 1:54 left. GU finished the half on a 9-0 run hitting their last four shots. Barta finished the half with 17 points and six rebounds to lead the Zags. Stach scored eight, and Stockton and Chandler Smith had four rebounds each. GU finished with eight assists and forced 10 Pilot turnovers for 16 points. Gonzaga shot 54% in the first half.
Midway through the third quarter GU had added five to their lead, up 44-20. Rice started with a quick four points and GU had 18 points off 12 Portland turnovers, and their steal total reached seven. Barta drilled a three at the 3:48 mark to go over 20 points at 21. The Zags finished on a flurry, an 11-2 run, with Rice scoring five of them. She entered the fourth quarter in double figures with 13 points. Loera joined Rice and Barta in double figures early in the fourth quarter with a three. Portland hit an almost four-minute field goal drought in the fourth quarter as the GU lead ballooned to 41, as the Zags won 75-36. Late in the fourth quarter Gonzaga freshman Louise Forsyth drilled a corner three, her first career points as a Zag. She would hit another for six total points.
Gonzaga only turned the ball over nine times and Portland scored no points off those turnovers. GU had 15 assists, led by Loera with five, and scored 11 points in transition. Gonzaga’s bench totaled 27 points and the Zags shot 48 percent from the field. The Zags hit six threes on the night, led by two from Stach and two from Forsyth. Portland was held to one-of-17 shooting from distance.
Gonzaga (16-4, 9-0 WCC) remained perfect in conference play and will travel to San Francisco on Saturday for a 2 pm game. Live links are available on GoZags.com.
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