This was the first look for the women against another opponent in a real live setting. The unfortunate season ending injury to Emma Wolfram shortened the depth on the frontline for the ladies, with all eyes on the twins. It was also going to be interesting to see how the other freshmen would play in their first action.
The first five minutes was all Zags, with Northwest Christian unable to score a point within the first five minutes. They clearly were overwhelmed by the size Gonzaga had, and at times could barely complete a pass. The Beacons settled down in the first quarter after hitting a few threes.
Two girls stood out in the first half. Zykera Rice was a beast on the boards, pulling down several offensive rebounds and showing off her athleticism in a number of turnover creations. Her buzzer beating three at the end of the half showed some improved range. Now as a starter, Rice will be responsible for all the dirty work alongside Barta.
Another player who played very well was Chandler Smith. Primarily a defending role player, Smith was the most aggressive player on offense when it came to looking and taking her shot.. She had eight points in the first half and had an all-around quality game. Emma Stach was her usual 3 and D self, and Barta could’ve had 40 if she wanted to. The star decided to be more of a facilitator is this game, but still had nearly a double double.
One player that really caught my eye in the second half was freshman Jill Townsend. First off she’s a lot bigger than I thought when just looking at her bio. She has great size on the perimeter and could be a wing in the same way Elle Tinkle was. She filled up the box score in many ways and reminded me of a previous post of Killian Tillie’s first game against San Diego State last year. She could be this team’s swiss army knife.
The player of the game clearly was freshman Jenn Wirth. She was the first player off the bench and immediately showed her scoring versatility, doing it both inside and out. In the first half alone she had eight points and four rebounds in just nine minutes. The second half was more of the same, with a number of 15-footers as well as a couple of makes from distance. Her sister Jenn was phenomenal on defense, forcing several turnovers.
One cool thing Coach Fortier did was allow Laura Stockton to play alongside the second unit. Having a veteran point guard on the court allowed the young girls to flourish. But what should make Zag fans happy was the outstanding shot selection by the team overall. There was a ton of passing and ball movement, which led to favorable shots. Some of the passing in transition was sloppy, but overall the maturity was there.
Gonzaga held Northwest Christian to just 11 second half points, with nothing coming down low. It was a good start for the Zags, as they will travel to a good Colorado State team on Monday November 13 to start the season.