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Gonzaga women turning great defense into strong offense ahead of trip to Pepperdine

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 21, 2020

Gonzaga guard Jessie Loera  keeps close as Pepperdine  guard Barbara Sitanggan  dribbles the ball during the first half  Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Jessie Loera keeps close as Pepperdine guard Barbara Sitanggan dribbles the ball during the first half Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Twenty minutes of game time is a small sample size, but the Gonzaga women appear to be recapturing their offensive rhythm.

In their 74-57 win at Loyola Marymount on Thursday night, the Zags recovered from a tough first half to pull away from the Lions.

As in most of their previous games, the spark came from defense. The Zags’ offense came together nicely in the second half, however, especially in a 31-point fourth quarter.

“I thought our team worked through a lot of physicality and continued to seek great team shots throughout the game,” head coach Lisa Fortier said after the game.

That’s something to hang their hats on as they travel across L.A. to Malibu, California, for Saturday’s game at Pepperdine.

For 13th-ranked GU, the win over LMU clinched the outright West Coast Conference title. Now the Zags (26-2, 15-1 WCC) are chasing more history.

Wins at Pepperdine and Portland (on Feb. 29) would give them a 17-1 conference record, tying GU’s record-breaking mark three years ago. GU also is moving closer to a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, though the Zags likely need to win the WCC Tournament as well for that to happen.

Three weeks after Katie Campbell’s season-ending knee injury, the Zags may be getting back in rhythm.

Pepperdine – a team the Zags beat by 34 points on Jan. 23 in Spokane – should be a better benchmark than ninth-place LMU.

The Waves (14-11, 8-7) had won five in a row until a two-point home loss to Portland on Thursday.

Hannah Friend leads the Waves in scoring at 10.7 points per game and is shooting 42.9% from the floor.

Malia Bambrick is close behind at 10.2 points per game, while Barbara Sitanggan chips in an even 10 points per contest.

In the previous meeting, Gonzaga limited Pepperdine to 36 points, the fewest allowed by a GU opponent this season. The Bulldogs hauled in a season-high 57 rebounds against the Waves and dished out 21 assists on 29 made field goals.

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