Zags steal game from San Diego, winning 58-54 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Zags steal game from San Diego, winning 58-54

Photo: Gonzaga Athletics Photo: Gonzaga Athletics

By Gonzaga Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. - Laura Stockton hit a game-sealing three with 33 seconds left and the shot clock winding down, and Gonzaga defeated San Diego 58-54 inside the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday night.

The Toreros did not get off a decent attempt against the Zags defense after Stockton's three, who led the Zags with 14 points on six-of-13 shooting, going two-of-three from distance. Jill Barta had her 10th double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds to lead GU, and Jessie Loera scored 10 points on four-of-nine shooting. The Zags' bench was critical chipping in 19 points on the night.

The Zags kept working to find their offensive rhythm early, as USD led 7-6 through the first five minutes, but the Toreros did endure two separate two-minute scoreless streaks. A layup from Barta and fastbreak led by Barta to Emma Stach saw the Zags lead 10-9 after one. GU had six second-chance points on three offensive rebounds. Four minutes into the second quarter GU led 19-13 after breaking on a 7-0 run on blocked shots from Zykera Rice, who finished with six points and six boards, and LeeAnne Wirth, as USD went scoreless for almost four minutes, as Loera scored five points in that stretch. Loera added another long range bomb before USD finally scored. Gonzaga took a 28-22 lead into the break. Loera joined Barta with eight points to lead the Zags. The GU bench scored 12 points and their defense had three blocks and five steals, led by Loera with three.

Both teams started the second half scoring at a higher clip, but GU was able to maintain their halftime lead of six to the three-minute mark, going up by eight multiple times. Stockton scored seven points to that point and was the first player in the game in double figures with 11 points. Loera broke into double figures late in the quarter with her 10th point and GU led 46-38 after three. Gonzaga shot 53.8 percent in the quarter and USD shot 50 percent. Barta opened the fourth quarter with a three for her 11th point and USD took a timeout as GU led by 11.

The Zags were up nine with three minutes left, but a 9-1 USD run led to Stockton's shot being the critical moment of the game.

"We stayed patient against the zone, and made enough adjustments to get it done today," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. "Laura has great confidence. She was ready, wanted it, and stepped up and hit it."

Outside of the third quarter, neither team shot well on the night, with GU finishing at 35.6 percent and USD at 35 percent. The Zags blocked five shots, and had 11 steals, with Loera grabbing four.

Gonzaga (23-5, 16-1) will wrap the regular season on Saturday with BYU at 2 pm for Senior Day. The Zags will honor Emma Stach and Emma Wolfram, and go for a conference-record 17 West Coast Conference wins. The game is live locally on SWX.

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