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What we saw from the women’s basketball team in their first two games of the season

Elle Tinkle is back to her old self, Emma Wolfram played her first games in a year, and the sophomore class shines

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Gonzaga vs George Washington Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

As we advance further into the season, we are going to see the Zags get more and more comfortable with each other on the court. There were good things and bad things that happened in both the games this weekend, so let’s break them down.

Nicholls State

1. Elle Tinkle

The fans finally got to see Elle Tinkle back to where she was when she was healthy two seasons ago. Tinkle came out firing, scoring a a quick 11 points to start the game out. She was flying around the court knocking balls away from Nicholls State guards and creating fast break opportunities.

2. Rebounding

Kiara Kudron cleaned the glass all night for the Zags as they went on their way to collect 54 rebounds, including 17 offensive rebounds. They will continue to use their rebounding advantages to fuel their offense.

3. First Half Defense

The Zags started the game by going on a 20-0 run, and holding Nicholls State scoreless for almost 7 minutes of the game. The Zags held Nicholls State to only 5 points in the first quarter, and two of them came off of free throws. They then held them to just 12 points in the second quarter. The Zags had 8 blocks and 8 steals in this game, most of them coming from the first half.

4. Second Half Defense

While the Zags first half defense was stellar, things seemed to fall apart in the second half. The Zags gave up 29 points in the second half to a team that they should have held to much less, as shown by the first half. The Zags need to tighten up their defense for the entirety of the game or this will hurt them down the line.

5. Technical and Flagrant Fouls

It was the first game of the season and emotions seemed to be running high. Jill Barta was charged with a Flagrant 1 foul in the first half after she elbowed a player from Nicholls State in the throat. Zykera Rice was charged with a technical foul in the second half when she shoved a Nicholls State player after the play was over. These are fouls that need to be eliminated, and that could end up costing them games deep in the season.

6. Turnovers

The Zags struggled with their turnovers against a sub par defense. A good portion of these turnovers were unforced errors with players passing the ball out of bounds, bouncing the ball off of their feet, and throwing bad passes. The Zags ended the game with 22 turnover to Nicholls States 14. Nicholls State also scored 20 of their 46 points off of the Zags turnovers.

UC Irvine

1. Makenlee Williams

Williams came into the game and hit her stride. She looked extremely comfortable and was knocking down shots left and right. Williams ended the night with six 3 pointers and 20 points. She also had no turnovers in the game. We got our first glance tonight at what we can expect the rest of the season.

2. Zykera Rice

Seeing as Rice saw the least amount of court time last season (other than Smith who did not play) of any of the talented sophomore class, I don’t know what was expected of her this season. As far as I’m concerned, in these first few games Rice has exceeded all expectations. Rice ended the game with a double double, 16 points and 10 rebounds, as well as 4 blocks. She showed her athleticism and confidence in this lopsided win.

3. Blocks and Post Defense

The Zags post defense was great against the Anteaters, as they tallied 9 blocks in the game. All of the blocks sparked the offense for the Zags and they kept the defensive intensity up all game long.

4. Zone Offense

One aspect where the Zags looked like they struggled was in their offensive sets against a zone. They looked a little frazzled and confused at moments, and a few times they had people running into each other or ending up in the same spots. Look for this to be tuned up as the season continues.

Final Thoughts

It was slightly concerning to see Jill Barta’s struggles against a much smaller Nicholls State team. Barta only scored 7 points, the lowest points scored since last season in January at BYU. But Barta came out against UC Irvine and scored 15 points.

If the Big Three (Barta, Kudron, Tinkle) continue scoring at the rate that they are scoring, they are set to score over a thousand points this season.

The big story this weekend was the three pointers. The Zags combined for 27 three pointers in the two games. Of the 180 points that they scored, 81 of them came off of three pointers. The Zags shot 44% from behind the arc in the two games. Here’s how the three pointers fell: Barta (3), Tinkle (4), Stach (4), Williams (7), Templeton (4), Loera (2), and Smith (3).

The Zags look to use this momentum as they head to Palo Alto to face 11th ranked Stanford on Friday.