Gonzaga clinches outright WCC Championship on senior night - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga clinches outright WCC Championship on senior night

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

By Gonzaga Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. - For the 13th time and 12th time in the last 13 years the Gonzaga Bulldogs are Regular-Season West Coast Conference Champions. The Zags saw to it that they would share the title with no one this season, as they downed San Diego 62-57 on Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The Zags honored seniors Makenlee Williams, Kiara Kudron, and Elle Tinkle for Senior Night and had already secured the number one seed for the upcoming WCC Tournament next week. On Thursday night, Jill Barta led the Zags with 13 points and Kudron scored seven to go with 10 rebounds. All totaled, nine different Zags scored, all scoring three or more, and 10 had rebounds.

"Tonight was a great night to clinch this outright," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. "This game is a little extra special tonight. When you win when you are trying to honor these three seniors it is pretty special."

Williams hit two early threes to jumpstart the Zags to an early 10-4 lead. The Toreros wrestled the lead back at that point and led 23-20 after the first quarter. The Zags fought back, and Tinkle, who finished with four points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals, made two foul shots at the 6:15 mark in the second quarter to regain the lead and help GU lead 31-30 at the half.

USD scored the first four points to regain the lead to start the second half, but freshman Jessie Loera came off the bench to score five-straight points to give GU a lead they would not relinquish. Loera finished the night with nine points and four assists to lead the Zags. A layup from Kudron to open the fourth quarter gave GU their largest lead, 49-40. The Zags kept the lead above five until USD cut it to two, 56-54, with two minutes left. Barta made two foul shots and scored a transition layup, and GU forced two missed threes from USD before Loera iced the game with two late foul shots, 62-57.

"This is what I envisioned for my senior night all along," Tinkle said. "This makes for a pretty great night. I am happy how everything went."

The Zags were 13-of-14 from the line, and outrebounded USD 41-26. The Zags forced 16 USD turnovers and had 11 steals, and outscored the Toreros bench, 24-7. Emma Wolfram grabbed six rebounds for the Zags and Emma Stach led the third quarter charge once again, and finished with eight points.

"Coming into this season, this was one of our top goals," Kudron said on winning the championship. "It was nice to get in the locker room after the game and check it off."

The Zags (23-5, 14-3) will finish the regular-season on Saturday on the road at BYU at 1 pm PST. The game is televised live on BYUTV

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