Zags shoot season-high 57 percent in win over Lions - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Zags shoot season-high 57 percent in win over Lions

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by Gonzaga Athletics

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Gonzaga Bulldogs' offense traveled to Loyola Marymount with a fury on Thursday night, as the Zags shot 57 percent and made 10 threes to defeat Loyola Marymount 80-56.  It was the Zags' highest field goal percentage of the year, besting the 55 percent they shot against Washington State in December, and the 80 points marked their second-highest scoring output this year.

Jill Barta led GU with 22 points, going nine-of-12 from the field and four-of-five from three.  Elle Tinkle joined her in double figures with 10 points and Kiara Kudron scored six points with 11 rebounds, and six assists, leading the team.  Eight different Zags scored six or more points, and 11 scored in the game.  Gonzaga held LMU to 37 percent shooting and two-of-14 from distance.

The Zags got layups on their early possessions and a corner three from Emma Stach to give GU the 9-6 lead four minutes in.  Both teams were willing to run early, as the pace was frenetic, and Gonzaga scored two baskets with one second on the shot clock in the first six minutes.  Chandler Smith scored in transition and Tinkle had a scoop and score for the 17-6 Gonzaga lead.  Barta dropped a transition three and it was 20-8 GU, forcing an LMU timeout with two minutes left.  Barta was great in the quarter with 12 points on five-of-six shooting with two threes, as GU led 25-12 and finished the final seven minutes on a 19-6 run.

"I love the way we started the game," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said.  "We were running great offense and finding the open player.  The way we started the game was the difference tonight."

Makenlee Williams opened the second quarter with a three to make it 28-12, the largest lead to that point.  Jessie Loera came off the bench and immediately dropped a gorgeous give and go to Kudron, making it 35-16 Zags.  As the quarter wore on, the Zags grabbed more loose balls and executed offensively quicker than LMU, leading to a 39-20 lead at the 3:44 mark.  GU went to the half up 49-24, shooting 67 percent from the field, the highest one-half total this year.  Barta was seven-of-eight from the field and three-of-three from long range for 17 points, one short of her highest total for a half this year.  Emma Stach and Elle Tinkle scored seven, and Chandler Smith added a quick seven points off the bench.  Gonzaga scored 20 points off nine LMU turnovers.  

Six minutes into the third quarter LMU had trimmed one off the lead, 56-33, but Barta hit another three for her 20th point.  With two minutes left in the quarter Emma Wolfram pinned her opponent deep and Barta followed with a layup on the next possession on a pass from Smith, followed by a Zhané Templeton jumper, leading to a 67-38 lead entering the fourth, the largest lead of the game.

LMU hit their first three of the game at the 7:35 point in the fourth quarter, but Gonzaga led 75-43 at the time following two threes from Templeton and Williams.  The Zags went up by 35 two minutes into the fourth, in what was their largest lead of the game, and won 80-56.

The Bulldogs scored 27 points off 13 LMU turnovers, and scored 11 fast-break points, and held LMU to zero transition baskets.  The GU bench outscored the Lions, 27-15, led by Chandler Smith who had nine points, three rebounds, and two assists.  Laura Stockton had five assists and the Zags won the rebounding battle, 38-29.

GU won their third-straight WCC game and improved to 12-4 and 3-2 in the conference.  Their road trip continues with Saint Mary's on Saturday at 1 pm.  The game is available on Dish Network's Sling TV, Verizon's go90 app, and the THEW.TV.

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