Zag women rally in 4th to win 79-75 at Saint Mary's - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Zag women rally in 4th to win 79-75 at Saint Mary's

Gonzaga Athletics

MORAGA, Calif. - A three-point play and jumper from Kiara Kudron and two steals and clutch free throws from Laura Stockton, plus a career-high 33 point from Jill Barta, gave Gonzaga an exciting come-from-behind road victory at Saint Mary's on Saturday afternoon, 79-75.

Kudron's three-point play gave GU their first lead in 36 minutes late in the fourth quarter and Stockton was ice from the line late and on the defensive end, as Gonzaga stole the lead late and took the road win.

Barta notched a career-high 33 points, going 11-of-19 from the field and a perfect 10-of-10 from the line. Laura Stockton added 12 points, including five in the crucial fourth quarter. Kudron came alive on the offensive end in the second half with 11 points in the game, and led with seven rebounds and six assists. Elle Tinkle added nine points and Gonzaga forced 18 steals, led by Barta with seven, another career high for her, and the team's highest since they had 15 at Portland last season and the most under head coach Lisa Fortier.

"That was a very tough and physical game," Fortier said.  "Saint Mary's is the kind of team that doesn't beat themselves, you have to be ready to battle or you will go home unhappy.  Our team kept fighting and fighting, and we executed and got stops down the stretch when we needed them most.  What a great team win!"

A deadball technical hurt Gonzaga early and they trailed 9-2 through the first three and half minutes. After their first basket, the Zags went scoreless over the next 4:11 before a Barta jumper killed the drought, 11-4. The Gaels built their lead to 18-4, before Barta responded with a three-point play at 2:38. The Zags finished the quarter on a 10-3 run with eight points coming from Barta to trail 21-14.

Through the first four minutes of the second quarter GU got within six twice, before Chandler Smith made a three to pull within five, 30-25, with 4:54 remaining. A three from SMC pushed it back to 12, 39-27 two minutes later. Makenlee Williams made two steals in the last two possessions, and five points from the Zags made it 44-38 SMC at half. Barta finished with a season-high of 23 points in the first half, joined by two three-pointers from Williams. SMC shot 56 percent from three in the half, but GU forced 10 SMC turnovers.

Kudron opened the third with a jumper and GU was within four, the closest they had been since the first couple minutes. The Zags tied the game at 49 on an Emma Stach three-pointer at 7:44. The Gaels pulled back ahead by five, 61-56, with 3:19 remaining. SMC took a 67-61 lead into the fourth after Gonzaga pulled within two, 63-61.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, SMC added one to their lead, 70-65 after Barta broke her career-high in points with her 33nd on a follow-up in the paint. Stockton nailed a corner three and a steal and pull-up jumper tied the game at 70 with four minutes left. A three-point play from Kiara Kudron gave GU their first lead since 15 seconds into the game, 73-70 with three minutes left. SMC cut it to one with a layup with 1:07 left on the clock. Kudron came out and drilled an elbow jumper, and after the Stockton steal, Stockton made two at the line. After an SMC three, Stockton made two more at the line, and a jump ball at the other end gave GU the ball. An over and back penalty gave it right back, but SMC missed on the other end.

Gonzaga shot 44 percent along with Saint Mary's and 32 percent from three, while SMC hit at 50 percent. SMC won on the boards, 37-33, but the steals equalized everything for Gonzaga.

The Zags (13-4, 4-2 WCC) are headed back to Spokane and will host Santa Clara at 6 pm on Thursday. The game is live locally on SWX and on the THEW.TV.

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