Gonzaga used a defensive onslaught and an impressive array of depth to defeat Montana 76-52 in their season opener in front of a packed McCarthey Athletic Center.
One of the questions entering the season was the ability of role players to step up and contribute. Coach Lisa Fortier has to be pleased with the answer tonight. Katie Campbell and Jill Townsend each finished the first half in double figures.
Gonzaga used a full court press the first 20 minutes and forced 15 first half turnovers en route to a 42-17 lead.
For all the talk of the three seniors, it was the bench that was most impressive. Katie Campbell came in and immediately drained a three off an inbounds pass. She followed it up with two strip steal and scores. Campbell finished with a career-high 13 points, including three 3s and four steals.
If anyone was more impressive than Campbell, it was Jill Townsend. She was all over the court and stuffed the stat sheet. She finished with a career-high 14 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Melody Kempton, who is getting more minutes with Jenn Wirth recovering from a broken finger, also contributed six points and five rebounds off the bench.
All told, Gonzaga’s bench totaled 36 of their 76 points. That’s not to say their starters were bad, either. Chandler Smith did what she always does - everything. She delivered eight points, six rebounds and three steals. Laura Stockton and Jessie Loera combined for nine assists. Zykera Rice struggled from the floor, but still finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
In short, Gonzaga was very impressive in their season opener. The defense was suffocating, their ball movement against Montana’s zone was excellent, and their depth showed up in waves.
The women will take the long, treacherous road to Cheney on Sunday when they take on Eastern Washington.