SPOKANE, Wash- Sophomore forward Kayla Standish scored a career-high 25 points to lead three players in double-figure points as the Gonzaga University women's basketball team easily defeated the University of North Dakota 85-46 at the McCarthey Athletic Center Wednesday evening. The Bulldogs improved to 4-1 on the season and now have won four straight, while the Fighting Sioux fell to 1-4 overall.
"I thought it was a great game," stated head coach Kelly Graves after the 39 point victory. "It wasn't a great start, got the shots we wanted early but they didn't fall for us. We then dialed it up on defense and got things going off of that."
A slow start it was for the Bulldogs as they missed their first eight shots of the contest and didn't score until the 16:31 mark when junior point guard Courtney Vandersloot drained a 3-pointer to cut the Fighting Sioux's lead to 5-3. North Dakota then scored six of the next eight points to push its lead to 11-5 five minutes into the half and continued to hold the lead at 11-10 at the 13:31 mark.
It was all Gonzaga after that. The Zags went on a 17-2 spurt to claim a 14-point advantage with a little over eight minutes remaining before halftime. Sophomore Katelan Redmon was the one who took over for GU scoring 11 of the Zags 17 points, hitting a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, including 1-of-1 on 3-pointers.
"Early on in the game we were settling for jump shots," explained Graves. "Courtney started to penetrate and was able to fine Katelan who made things happen."
Vandersloot had six assists on the Bulldogs eight buckets during this stretch.
North Dakota was able to slice GU's lead to just eight at 27-19 with 3:32 left before half but the Zags buckled down on defense, not allowing the Fighting Sioux to score another point as they went 0-of-6 over the final minutes. Gonzaga tallied the final 13 points of the half, including a 3-pointer by sophomore Kelly Bowen with two ticks left on the clock to give the Bulldogs the 40-19 advantage at half.
The Bulldogs hit 45.0 percent (18-of-40) from the field, including 28.6 percent (4-of-14) on 3-pointers. The Zags had 14 assists on the 18 field goals, nine of which were dished out by Vandersloot. Redmon finished the half with 13 points and Standish had 10.
Gonzaga continued to push the tempo in the second half as it scored 33 points, to North Dakota's 10, 12 minutes into the final 20 minutes to claim its largest lead of the game at 44 points; 73-29. Standish had 14 points during this stretch, and when she hit her jumper at the 9:27 mark she was a perfect 11-of-11 overall from the field.
"Every night we have the potential to have somebody new have a great night. Against USC it was Vivian, against Washington it was Katelan, tonight it was Kayla," said Graves. "It is extremely nice to have our bench, which included both Kayla and Katelan, produce so much for us tonight."
Every single Bulldog played in the contest, including junior Claire Raap and freshman Meghan Winters who scored their first points of the season down the stretch to help give GU the 39-point victory. For Winters, who knocked down a 3-pointer and sank two free throws, they were the first points of her collegiate career.
Gonzaga finished the game shooting 44.2 percent (33-of77) from the field, 34.8 percent (8-of-23) on 3-pointers and 75.0 percent (9-of-12) at the charity stripe. The Bulldogs had 24 assists, 16 steals and a season-low nine turnovers.
Vandersloot dished out a career-high 16 assists, one shy of tying Robin Allen's single game assist record of 17 set in 1987, along with eight points and six steals.
North Dakota was led by Jossy Youngblut who had 13 points. The Fighting Sioux shot 31.6 percent (18-of-57) from the field, including 42.1 percent (8-of-19) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Gonzaga returns to action this Sunday, Nov. 29 when it plays at Stanford University – ranked second in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Game time is set for 2 p.m.