In the last three games, the Gonzaga women have outscored their opponents 231-154. After a disappointing showing in the Virgin Islands, the Zags have picked back up where they were before the Thanksgiving break and have won three straight games. Here are the major observations from the games.
- First quarter play has drastically improved since the Thanksgiving break. After giving up 53 combined first quarter points in their two losses on the season, the Zags have given up a combined 37 first quarter points in the last 3 games. The Zags have also scored 69 first quarter points in the last 3 games. Jumping out to a quick start has been key for the Zags all season and will continue to play a large part in their success.
- Defense. Defense. Defense. Coach Lisa Fortier has been cracking down on the Zags defense lately, and it is paying off. The Zags have had 14 blocks, 24 steals, and have caused 52 turnovers in the three games. The Zags also recorded at least 6 shot clock violations. The Zags also held EWU leading scorer Hodgins scoreless through most of the first half and to only 13 points in the game. Perhaps the most astounding fact about the Gonzaga defense is that they held all three teams to under 50% shooting.
- The starting lineup and the bench have both been almost equally impressive. The Zags have one of the shortest benches that they have had in years, but this is perhaps the deepest bench they have had since the days of Vandersloot, Bekkering, Bowan, Bowman, Frieson, Raap, Reader, Redmon, Shives, and Standish. With the stacked starting lineup that the Zags have, it is good to see them starting games off strong to allow their bench to get involved in games. Everyone on the bench has been getting big minutes lately, and have been scoring anywhere from 25-45% of the Zags points over the last 3 games.
- Double Doubles. Jill Barta and Kiara Kudron’s work on the glass and scoring are a huge key to the Zags success. Both Barta and Kudron have recorded a double double in the last 3 games, and they created many second chances by cleaning up the glass. These two are a huge part of this highly successful Gonzaga team.
- The team proved that they are capable of hanging with very physical teams after a battle against Washington State. Many Zags were thrown to the floor, some were elbowed in the face, others punched in the face, but they proved that they were tough enough to handle the pressure and come out on top.
- Laura Stockton has been huge for the Zags. She is averaging more minutes than anyone else on the team, and is higly effective while running the offense, with 7 turnovers and 13 assists over the three games. It is very noticeable when Stockton is not on the court. While her outside shoot has not been falling, Stockton has turned to her inside game and has hit some big shots, tallying 20 points.
- Playing time. Over the course of the last 3 games, almost every player has played double digit minutes. With everyone on the roster getting good playing time, the team is gaining experience, and different rotations of players are beginning to flow well together. This will be key to the Zags in the event that the team suffers injuries or makes a deep playoff run. Having subs who are able to step up is extremely valuable.
The Zags have two more games in Spokane against Northwestern (8-1) and Colgate (3-6) before they begin their league campaign at Pepperdine. Northwestern is averaging 80.6 points per game while holding opponents to 66.5 points per game. Colgate is averaging 66.5 points per game while their opponents have averages 71.4 points per game. The Zags are averaging 85.6 points per game and holding opponents to 59.7 points per game. Look for the Zags to have two hard fought games as they close out non conference play.