SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga Bulldogs put their best collective offensive and defensive effort of the season so far together on Saturday afternoon and won convincingly, 91-52, over visiting Portland State.
Multiple Zags had extremely impressive stat lines, beginning with Jill Barta who scored 30 points with seven rebounds. It marked her fifth career 30+ point game, setting a new school record. Chandler Smith was two assists short of a triple-double with 10 points, a career-high 10 rebounds, career-high eight assists, three steals, a block, and zero turnovers in 34 minutes for her first career double-double. Zykera Rice scored a career-high 20 points and matched her career-high 10 rebounds for her second career double-double, added to three blocks. Jessie Loera scored nine points with five assists.
"I thought we did a great job pushing the tempo today, and that allowed the whole team to get going," Smith said.
The first five minutes of the game was back and forth with PSU grabbing a 12-10 lead on two early threes. GU looked to attack the PSU zone with high-low post looks that proved effective. After the Vikings built the lead 16-10, Barta responded with a three and two free throws that spurred a 9-0 run to finish the quarter as GU led 19-16. GU forced eight turnovers for 10 points in the quarter. Barta led the way with nine points.
Loera opened the second quarter with a three, and the run continued to 21-0 and spanned over eight minutes as GU led 31-16 midway through the second quarter. The Zags outscored the Vikings 28-9 in a quarter that ended on another 9-0 GU run. After a hot start, GU held PSU to 33 percent shooting in the half after they shot 50 percent in the first quarter. GU shot 52 percent in the second quarter with two threes, and 47 percent in the half. The Zags dominated the glass, 25-16, and points in the paint, 26-8. 11 PSU turnovers turned into 15 GU points. Barta scored 17 points with six rebounds, and Rice added 11 points and five rebounds. Smith had four assists, four rebounds, and three steals, and Loera had seven points and three assists. It marked the third time this season GU forced a team under 10 points in a quarter, as PSU scored nine in the second.
The Zags went on another run in the third quarter, 8-0, and had their biggest lead of the game to finish the quarter, 70-40. Barta finished the quarter with 24 points and Rice had 18. Smith had seven assists at the end of the quarter. The Zags propelled to the finish from there, winning by 39 points, which ended up being the largest lead of the game.
"It takes a lot to be patient against the zone, and I felt we had great composure against it tonight," Rice said.
GU was a terror on defense once again, forcing 23 turnovers for 11 steals for 32 points. They dominated in the paint, 52 points to 18, and they turned the turnovers into runouts, 16 transition points to two. Even with the overwhelming production from their starters, they outscored PSU's bench 15-8. GU controlled the glass as well, 46 rebounds to 36. GU shot 47 percent and held PSU to 31 percent.
"Once we really figured our zone offense out, we never looked back," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. "Once we directed them better defensively, it led to even better offensive opportunities."
Gonzaga (4-3) will look to carry that momentum down to Pullman on Wednesday to face Washington State at 7 pm. The game is available regionally on the Pac-12 Network.