The Lady Zags got off to a fast start in front of a sold-out crowd. Along with some sharp offensive play, Gonzaga was able to maintain strong defense throughout the opening quarter--particularly with their man-to-man defense.
Both teams eventually settled into the game and it became a back-and-forth affair. The two teams exchanged baskets for seemingly the entire second quarter as neither was able to pull away. GU Senior, Elle Tinkle, led the team with 10 points in the first half but would not score again in the game. The half would end with the game tied at 27.
Stanford started off the third quarter sloppily, missing rotations on defense and turning the ball over rather carelessly on the offensive end. Unfortunately, the Lady Zags couldn't take advantage and build a big lead as Elle Tinkle sat down early in the third with foul trouble. The GU offense looked very stagnant once Tinkle departed with seven minutes to go in the third, and Stanford started to look like they would run away with the game. However, redshirt freshman forward Jill Barta stepped up with six straight points late in the third quarter to keep the game tight going into the final stanza.
The Lady Zags only trailed 41-38 going into the fourth quarter and even re-captured the lead with just over six minutes to go. However, the Stanford duo of Erica McCall and Lili Thompson was too much to handle, and someone put an invisible lid over the Gonzaga basket as they missed their last twelve shots of the game.
Don't let the scoreline fool you, though. This game was extremely close for 35 minutes. But, the Lady Zags went cold at the worst time, and Stanford hit three straight triples to pull away and turn a tight 48-47 game with 5 minutes left into a comfortable win.
A few observations from the game:
- The Lady Zags' offense looked good in their pick and roll action, and they had a lot of success getting movement towards the basket. However, they need to do a better job of moving the ball quickly in their half court motion sets
- Gonzaga ballhandlers dribbled themselves into trouble too many times in the first half, particularly in the corners. They did a much better job adjusting and avoiding traps in the corner during the second half.
- Good job converting some tough jumpers in the first half; but, as evidenced in the fourth quarter, that's not a formula for sustained success. The Lady Zags would finish 14.3% (3-21) from the 3-pt line and 31% overall from the field.
- Jill Barta played very well and she exhibited some much-needed assertiveness on the offensive end. She finished as the team's leading scorer with 11 points off the bench along with 8 rebounds.
- Despite the loss, the Lady Zags looked good for much of the game. They are still the favorites to win the WCC this year.
- A couple of rule changes to keep in mind: (1) the women's game will play four 10-minute quarters rather than two 20-minute halves; (2) Once there is a minute left in each half, a team may advance the ball to halfcourt on a timeout; (3) NBA foul rules were adopted as the "1-and-1" bonus has been eliminated. Once a team commits 5 fouls in a quarter the opposing team gets to shoot two free throws per foul for the rest of the quarter.