Gonzaga used their stifling defense and balanced offensive attack to defeat Idaho State 70-51 on Tuesday and improve to 3-0 on the season. Eight different Zags hit a field goal for the second time this season.
For the third straight game, Gonzaga game out a little sluggish offensively in the first few minutes. Every game, someone different has been the spark plug. In the opener, it was Katie Campbell and Jill Townsend. On Sunday, it was Chandler Smith. Tuesday, it was Zykera Rice, who put up her best game of the young season. After struggling from the field the first two games, Rice put up 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
Once again, Katie Campbell delivered off the bench. She’s not just a feisty defender anymore. She’s become a reliable scorer and their best outside threat. She added 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. She’s averaging 10.3 ppg and three steals and has been at the center of most Gonzaga runs.
The one constant through the first three games is Gonzaga’s defense. They forced 19 more turnovers on Tuesday and have averaged 21 in their first three contests. They flashed a zone tonight, to go along with their man defense and full court press. They have managed to keep offenses off-balance and, for the most part, shut down driving lanes.
Gonzaga used a 9-0 to end the first quarter and held a 15-10 lead heading to the second. That’s when they took off. They shot 47 percent from the field and extended their lead to 17 by halftime. Idaho State got it to within 12 during the second half, but Gonzaga kept them at arms length and eventually ran away in the fourth quarter, thanks in large part to a 15-for-17 performance from the foul line. Chandler Smith did a little bit of everything, as she always does, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Things got a little chippy late in the fourth quarter. The game had been very physical throughout, but some excessive physicality and a couple elbows led to a flagrant foul being assessed to each team.
After feasting on three Big Sky teams, Gonzaga will get their first real challenge of the season when they travel to UNLV on Saturday afternoon.