LAS VEGAS -- The Gonzaga women's basketball team won their second straight West Coast Conference tournament title, defeating sixth-seeded San Diego, 79-71, inside the Orleans Arena Tuesday.
The Zags (27-5) were led by Jill Barta's 32 points. She was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after going 10-of-19 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. She grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Zykera Rice, who was named All-Tournament Team, added 17 points and Emma Stach had 14 points and joined her on the All-Tournament Team. Laura Stockton dished out eight assists.
Gonzaga shot 50.9 percent from the field, including 7-of-16 from behind-the-arc. The Bulldogs limited USD to 33 percent from the field in the second half, and 1-of-5 from three-point range in the game. GU was a perfect 16-of-16 from the free-throw line.
USD jumped to an early 4-2 lead before Stach drilled a corner three as GU led 5-4. Stach hit another to make it 10-4 Zags through the first three minutes. USD came storming back on a 9-0 run and led 15-12 at the 4:52 mark. USD scored 14 of their first 15 points in the paint. The Toreros led 25-20 at the end of one. They shot 63 percent in the quarter and scored 20 points in the paint with four offensive rebounds. Stach and Rice scored eight for GU as they shot 46 percent in the quarter. Stockton had four assists in the quarter. The teams traded buckets through the first three minutes of the second quarter as Barta broke into double figures with the first six points of the quarter for GU. Jill Townsend scored a swooping layup as GU broke on a 6-0 run forcing a USD timeout, cutting it to 31-30 with 6:41 left in the quarter. Stockton went coast to coast to grab the lead, Stach drilled another three and the run was 13-0 over four-plus minutes before USD scored, with GU leading 37-33. USD got their feet and took back the lead 40-39 with two minutes left on their own 6-0 run. Stockton scored the and-one to regain the two-point edge. Rice put together her own three-point play and GU took a 45-40 lead into the half as USD was scoreless over the final two minutes.
Rice led all scorers in the half with 13, Barta added 12, and Stach scored 11. Stockton added seven with four assists and GU shot 57 percent with nine assists. USD shot 53 percent, but Gonzaga was 10-of-10 from the line. USD scored 28 of their 40 points in the paint. Stach hit all three of the Zags' triples. Barta got a shooter's bounce on her first three and GU added three to their lead. Both teams hit two-plus minute scoreless streaks early in the quarter. Gonzaga led 52-44 at the 4:57 mark. Stach hit another three as GU built their first double-digit lead of the day. USD did not hit a field goal over the final six minutes of the quarter, but took 10 free throws in the quarter, making eight. Barta scored back-to-back buckets to give GU the 61-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter. USD shot eight percent in the quarter and GU shot 46.7 percent but did not attempt a foul shot.
USD opened the quarter with a three-point play off a near GU steal, but Townsend beat the shot clock with a reigning corner three. Barta hit a huge three off a rebound from Jenn Wirth and GU led by 12, 67-55, their largest to that point with 7:30 remaining. Barta scored back-to-back buckets and GU led 73-57 with five minutes left, forcing a USD timeout. USD responded with a 9-0 run but Gonzaga held on.
"I am really proud of our team, we got better as the game went on," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. "We stuck together through tough moments and we made big plays, and everyone stepped up when we needed them." Maya Hood led San Diego (17-15) with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. She had a game-high 11 rebounds. Sydney Williams scored 20 points, while Aubrey Ward-El and Myah Pace both had 10 points.
Gonzaga outrebounded the Toreros, 34-26. The Zags had 17 assists on 28 made shots from the field.
The Bulldogs have won the WCC Tournament title eight times, including seven of the 10 played in Las Vegas. GU advances to the NCAA Tournament and will learn its opponent on Monday.