PORTLAND, Ore. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team hit the road for the first time this season as a ranked opponent, currently No. 24 in the Associated Press poll, and had to overcome a six-point halftime deficit to earn a 70-58 victory at the University of Portland Saturday afternoon. The Zags victory kept them undefeated in the West Coast Conference at 8-0 and was their 10-straight. GU is now 19-4 overall. The loss dropped the Pilots to 4-4 in conference and 15-8 overall.
The Bulldogs were uncharacteristically down 36-30 at halftime, just their sixth time this season and only second time in league play. Gonzaga shot 39.4 percent (13-of-33) from the field and were outmanned on the boards 23-12. Portland itself was on fire in the opening 20 minutes, sinking 15-of-30 from the floor (50.0 percent), including 3-of-9 from behind the 3-point arc.
The Pilots turned a 20-20 tie into a 12-point lead with a 12-2 run late in the first half. Alexis Gannis started things off with a layup followed by a 3-pointer by sharpshooter Laiken Dollente. Back-to-back jumpers by UP's Lauren Angel stunned the Zags and gave the Pilots the 29-20 advantage at 4:58. The Bulldogs finally stopped the home teams run with a jumper by Katelen Redmon, playing in her first game since sitting out both contests last weekend with a sore ankle. Dollente responded though with another 3-pointer, and after a steal by Dollente, ReZina TecleMariam made a layup to put the Pilots lead at 12 34-22 with 3:26 left.
The Zags started to put things together, scoring eight of the final ten points of the half to cut the lead to a respectable six points.
Bowman was the spark plug for Gonzaga in the first half, hitting 5-of-8 from the floor for 11 points.
The Bulldogs demeanor was quite different in the second half. Focused and gritty, GU scratched its way back, finally re-taking the lead at the 11:25 mark on a steal and layup by junior point guard Courtney Vandersloot. On the next play, Vandersloot got the outlet pass from sophomore Kelly Bowen, who grabbed the defensive board off the Pilots miss, and found Redmon streaking down the sideline. Redmon scored and gave the Zags the 47-44 edge at 10:54.
It was all uphill for Gonzaga after that as it built its lead to double-digits at 60-47 with 4:37 left in the contest.
Vandersloot had 11 of her 14 points in the second half. Bowen, who finished with six points, was a defensive genius on Dollente, holding the Pilots leading scorer to just two points in the final half, after scoring 11 in the opening 20.
Gonzaga finished the game hitting a respectable 40.7 percent from the floor (29-of-63) and was 76.9 percent from the free throw line, hitting 10-of-13. After struggling on the boards in the first half, the Zags seemed to make it their mission in the second, outrebounding the Pilots 24-8.
Bowman led all scorers with 19 points. Vandersloot added eight assists with her 14 points and Redmon chipped in 12.
Only four players scored for Portland. Angel and TecleMariam both had 16 points and Dollente and Gannis finished with 13 a piece.
Gonzaga returns to action next Thursday when it plays at Saint Mary's College. The Gaels are currently in second place in the WCC with a 7-1 record. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.