Gonzaga wins tight one in Pullman over WSU 64-56 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga wins tight one in Pullman over WSU 64-56

Photo: Gonzaga Athletics Photo: Gonzaga Athletics

By Gonzaga Athletics

PULLMAN, Wash. - The Zags won an absolute battle of attrition on Wednesday night in Pullman, 64-56, over Washington State, in front of the loud Zag fan base down from Spokane.

Zykera Rice took over late with 19 points, 13 in the second half, seven rebounds, and big play after big play as GU took control in the fourth quarter. Jill Barta scored 15 and Jessie Loera added nine points as she continued her great play. Chandler Smith scored eight points and had a career-high 11 rebounds to lead the team. Emma Stach and Laura Stockton had four assists each to lead the Zags.

The Zags had turnovers on their first two possessions, but offensive boards from Rice and Smith led to a 4-2 Zag lead. After WSU went up 6-4, quick Zag ball movement led to a Barta three from the wing. Five minutes in there was nine total turnovers and seven fouls as WSU led 10-9. A great high-low from Rice to Barta beat the shot clock as GU regained the 11-10 lead. The Zags outscored the Cougars 6-3 over the last four minutes capped by a fastbreak three from Barta as Stockton found her trailing. WSU hit a three late and GU led 16-13 after one. An offensive rebound led to an early three from Stach and GU extended their lead to 21-17. A corner three from Barta off the inbounds made it 24-18 as GU extended the 6-1 run. The Cougars got four possessions off offensive rebounds to kill the run.

WSU closed the gap to 26-25, but Barta took two defenders to the basket to regain the three-point edge. Stockton then drew the defense into the corner and found Rice for the basket. The Cougars closed the half on a 4-0 run and the game was tied at 30 at the half. Barta finished the half with 15 points, hitting three three-pointers and Rice added six points. Smith led the way with seven rebounds, and GU shot 44 percent from the field, and four-for-four from three.

Smith beat the shot clock with a pull-up early in the second to keep the lead 34-32. WSU responded with five-straight to lead 37-34. Stockton took it right at the basket and tied it at 39 with 3:30 left to play. Jill Townsend tied the game at 43 on a transition three-point play with two minutes left in the quarter. The quarter ended in a tie at 43 as both teams went scoreless over the final two minutes.

Loera opened the fourth with a floater over the WSU post to regain the lead GU would not lose. The Zags extended the WSU scoreless streak for another 2:30 minutes and led 47-45. Loera spun a three in and GU extended their lead to 52-47 with 5:44 remaining. Rice skied above everyone at the defensive end for a rebound then grabbed an offensive rebound for the three-point play at 4:00 for GU's 55-49 lead. WSU's field goal drought hit 3:30 before they hit a three to cut to lead to 57-52, but Smith responded with a three to reclaim their largest lead to that point and seal the win. The Cougars were quiet from three late and GU took home the 64-56 win.

"I am really proud of our team and how gritty we played tonight," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. "It was never pretty, but we got tough at the right time and found a way. We had a bunch of players step up at critical times for shots, rebounds, and big time team defensive plays."

The Zags fought off 26 turnovers, in a game where WSU turned it over 17 times and there were 48 total fouls, by shooting 46 percent from the field and they were six-of-nine from three. WSU did most of their damage with 28 offensive boards, but GU held them to 28 percent shooting. GU scored 17 second-chance points and were 16-of-24 from the line.

Gonzaga (5-3) will return home on Saturday at 2 pm to face UNLV. The game is live on SWX and live links are available at GoZags.com.

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