The Gonzaga women made every minute count Saturday afternoon.
From the beginning, their exhibition against Warner Pacific was less about points and rebounds than about time on the court, especially for backups eager to impress.
They did that and more in a 105-45 win witnessed by about 3,000 fans at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The game wasn’t even that close, as GU jumped to leads of 19-0 after 3 minutes, 60-19 at halftime and 89-29 after three quarters. The Zags outrebounded Warner Pacific 51-23.
“We started the game high energy and lots of great team plays,” said Katie Campbell, who had 16 points and four the Zags’ 24 assists.
“That’s usually how we get our best shots and our best plays,” Campbell added.
Warner Pacific, an NAIA Division II program from Portland, was coming off a 79-51 exhibition loss Wednesday night at Portland State.
The Knights trailed only 39-31 at halftime in that game, but this one got out of hand early – the best possible opportunity for the backups as everyone on the roster saw action.
The starting five was no surprise. Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth – starting together for the first time since high school – were joined by Campbell, Jill Townsend and Jessie Loera.
They gave GU an 11-0 lead after only 90 seconds. A minute and a half later, the the Zags were up 19-0, and head coach Lisa Fortier went to her bench.
That, too, didn’t raise an eyebrow. As she did in her freshman year, forward Melody Kempton of Post Falls brought energy and productivity – nine points and seven rebounds – as one of the first two players off the bench.
“I’m definitely ready to make a bigger contribution this year,” Kempton said.
Two minutes later, on came point guard Kayleigh Truong, a true freshman who already looks like she belongs on the college game.
She played a team-high 23 minutes – “I wasn’t really expecting that many,” Truong said – and did a lot of everything: eight points, five assists and two steals.
Truong also brought toughness.
Barely a minute after coming in for Loera, she took a charge in the lane.
“I joked with her in recruiting,” Fortier said. “She almost never took a charge in high school, but that’s two – she also took one against UCLA (in a closed-door scrimmage).”
Sophomore post Anamaria Virjoghe also caught Fortier’s eye after going 4 for 5 with eight points and seven boards.
“At halftime, I came in and I was surprised that Ana had four rebounds in 3 minutes,” Fortier said. “She’s valuable around the basket.”
There’s still work to be done ahead of the Nov. 10 opener against Cal State Bakersfield.
Three-point shooting (8 for 26 for the game) was off. Backups Louise Forsyth (1 for 6) and Kaylynne Truong (1 for 5) struggled, as did Campbell (2 for 6).
Fortier and some of the players also critiqued the Zags’ ball-screen defense, and defense in general.
“We played to some habits that aren’t my favorites,” Fortier said. “Such as where we were able to steal the ball in areas where normally we wouldn’t be able to.”
Jenn Wirth had a team-high 17 points and seven boards. Loera had six assists and five steals along with seven points.
Gabriella Bruno shined for the Knights, finishing with a game-high 19 points while going 4 for 7 from beyond the arc.
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