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Big night from Yvonne Ejim powers Zags to season opening win

The forward finished with 22 points.

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Yvonne Ejim had a big night and the Truong twins helped pile on the extra offense as the Gonzaga Bulldogs overcame turnovers to take down The Long Beach State, 80-54.

The Truong Twins earned the start alongside McKayla Williams, Ejim, and Eliza Hollingsworth, and both teams came out hot. Gonzaga poured it on even more so, hitting 62.5 percent from the floor and draining four threes to take a 28-16 lead into the first quarter.

That would be enough for the next twenty minutes, as both teams settled down. In the second and third quarters, Gonzaga combined for 26 points and The Beach combined for 25. Both squads were plagued by a combination of decent defense and somewhat careless turnovers. It seemed like every time the Zags were going to make a run to stretch the game out of reach, The Beach were there to keep it theoretically within striking range.

The fourth quarter was finally the different story. The Zags cut down on turnovers a bit and Brynna Maxwell demonstrated why she is such a solid addition to this squad, finishing with nine points (two threes and three free throws) in just four minutes. Overall, Maxwell was the second-leading scorer behind Ejim.

Let’s talk about Ejim a little bit. She was absolutely bruising The Beach down low. Ejim with with a final state line of 22 points off 9-of-13 shooting, 4-for-4 from FT, 10 rebounds, seven offensive, two steals, and just one turnover. Her box plus/minus was 35. She is as dependable of an option down low, which is good, because the Zags are still going to have to figure out who slots in next to her.

Although Hollingsworth earned the start, she had a rather rough game, finishing with just six points, four rebounds, and five turnovers. She demonstrated her range from afar, draining her one three point attempt.

We saw a the first serious look for quite a few Zags this evening. Maxwell was stellar and her three-point prowess is a perfect addition to the twin Truong threat from deep. Maud Huijbens was one of the first players off the bench, but she finished with six turnovers and just one field goal attempt. Calli Stokes earned some quality minutes, in general lining up as a slightly undersized forward and fighting it out down low.

Overall, it was a fine effort for the first game of the season. The turnover total of 21 is rather yikes, but 11 of those turnovers came from Huijbens and Hollingsworth combined. For the players specifically that it matters the most, the Truong twins and Ejim, they finished with a combined four turnovers.

The defense was on the mark, like it always is for these Gonzaga squads. Combine that with hitting 10 threes, this season the Zags will continue to be a difficult out. And with games coming up against No. 7 Louisville and potentially No. 3 Texas, they’ll get to prove it.