SPOKANE, Wash. – Emotion from the tipoff was quickly replaced by domination as the Zags ran away from BYU on Saturday, 62-37 at home, becoming the only school in West Coast Conference history to win 17 conference games.
The Zags honored seniors Emma Wolfram and Emma Stach pregame and postgame, and Wolfram, who has missed the season due to injury, started the game and subbed out immediately following the tip to a standing ovation from the 5700-plus Zag fans in attendance.
After BYU scored the first basket of the game, they went scoreless over the next 9:25 as that was their only points in the quarter. Over that stretch, Gonzaga scored 16 points, with Chandler Smith hitting two threes and GU controlling the glass, 15-6.
Smith finished with nine points on the day, but Stach stole the show, scoring 11 points on three-of-six shooting from distance, and with help from the Zags, held WCC-leading scorer Cassie Devashrayee to seven points on the night, her lowest output this season and only game not in double figures. Jill Barta tacked on her 12th double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 boards, and Zykera Rice came off the bench to score 11 with six boards. Barta added four blocks as GU had seven, compared to six for the Cougars, who lead the WCC by a wide margin in that category.
GU had seven second-chance points on six offensive boards, and had five steals and three assists in the first quarter. That marked the lowest point total Gonzaga has allowed in a quarter since the quarter system was adopted three years ago.
BYU remained scoreless for almost two minutes to start the second quarter but eventually trimmed the lead to 10, but Stach drilled a three off an inbounds pass and GU led 21-8 at the 4:56 mark, with seven points off nine turnovers and six steals to that point. The Zags extended the lead to 19, 27-8, their largest lead in the half at the three-minute mark. GU quelled a mini BYU run and took a 33-15 lead into halftime. Rice led the Zags with eight points and Barta and Smith added six each. Gonzaga dominated the glass 23-15, had 10 offensive rebounds for 14 second-chance points. The 15 points was the lowest amount allowed in a half by Gonzaga all season. The Zags forced 13 turnovers for 13 points off turnovers and nine steals, led by Laura Stockton with three. GU dominated points in the paint 12-4 and bench points, 12-3.
The Zags did not score through the first five minutes of the third quarter and BYU got the lead down to 12 twice, but GU finished on an 8-2 run fueled by a three from Jill Townsend and three-point play from Stockton. The Zags added five more steals in the quarter and three more blocks. Back-to-back threes from Barta and Smith saw the Zags go up 57-31 with five minutes left in the game as BYU went scoreless for another stretch. Stach followed that with a three, making the advantage 29, the largest of the game, and GU cruised to postgame speeches and net-cutting from there.
“The first quarter defense was the total difference in the game,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “They had to work for every shot they took in that quarter. We were ready and dialed in from the start.”
GU scored 20 points off 22 BYU turnovers and 16 steals, as Smith, Stockton, and Barta had three each. Gonzaga had 24 second-chance points off 19 offensive rebounds with 22 bench points, with Rice and Jenn Wirth accounting for 17 of them.
Gonzaga (24-5, 17-1) secured their 14th WCC Championship last week, but enjoyed the postgame trophy celebration and are off to Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament next week as the top seed. GU opens with either Pepperdine or Santa Clara in the quarterfinals next Friday at 12 pm on TheW.tv. Links links are available on GoZags.com.