The Gonzaga Bulldogs looked a bit weary by the time they finally made it back to Spokane for the first time this season, grinding out a gutsy 58-51 win over the Montana Grizzlies.
Montana just would not leave the Bulldogs alone throughout the contest, although the Grizzlies rarely lead throughout the game. Gonzaga led by as many as 14 to close out the third quarter. Montana threatened in the fourth quarter, pulling to within two with 4:42 left, but the Gonzaga defense kept Montana at length to close out the game.
Gonzaga’s top two-leading scorers, Jill Townsend and Jenn Wirth, struggled to get their shots to fall throughout the contest, scoring six and nine points, respectively. Wirth picked up a bit of that slack by gathering five offensive rebounds and swatting two shots, but she also turned the ball over five times.
Overall, the Zags got stops when they needed stops and they made shots when they needed shots. With the lead at two in the fourth quarter, and after two-consecutive turnovers on poor passes into the post, Jenn Wirth was able to kick it out to Kayleigh Truong for her only three-point make of the evening.
LeeAnne Wirth led the Zags with 12 points and Cierra Walker chipped in 10. Overall, those points were hard to come by. The Zags offense looked stagnant at times, generating just nine assists as a team, much lower than the season mark of 20.3 per game.
The Zags, who normally shoot over 50 percent as a team shot just 31.1 percent from the floor and 27.8 from three-point range.
But as is the Gonzaga way, the defense held strong. Through the mix of man-to-man and the zones thrown in, the Zags forced 19 turnovers and held Montana 36.7 percent from the floor. Through sheer grit, the Grizzlies wouldn’t politely leave Gonzaga alone until the waning seconds of the game.
That wraps up Gonzaga’s lone home game for the non-conference slate this year. In a week, the Zags will head to Las Vegas for the Holiday Hoops Classic against Eastern Michigan University and University of North Alabama to close out non-conference play.