The Gonzaga Bulldogs put together a dominating performance on both the offensive and defensive ends in a complete beatdown of the Saint Mary’s Gaels, 85-49.
With Saint Mary’s Ali Bamberger holding strong down low in the first quarter, the Zags struggled in the paint early on. The Zags shot just 5-of-18 from the floor through the first 10, with only two shots coming in the paint. A few threes helped offset the poor shooting, but with the Gaels stifling the floor, Gonzaga relied on its tried and true defense to stay close.
The Zags switched things up, throwing a press at Saint Mary’s that routinely flustered the Gael’s offense. The Zags generated 13 points off eight turnovers to take a 17-13 lead into the second quarter.
The offense started to kick into gear in the second quarter, with the Truong twins pushing the pace and sending the Gael’s running. Meanwhile, the defense collapsed on Bamberger, taking away Saint Mary’s best option for scoring, and the Zags went on a 9-0 run at one point to begin to pull away. With 11 steals in the first half, the Zags entered halftime leading 39-26.
After the early struggles in the paint, the roles were quickly reversed. Melody Kempton and Yvonne Ejim started to find plenty of room and Anamaria Virjoghe turned into a defensive menace for the Gaels trying to find easy looks in the paint. The Zags utilized switches, rotations, and sneaky hands to deny Bamberger the ball. Gonzaga outscored Saint Mary’s 20-2 in the paint in the second half, exploding for 26 points to take a 65-34 lead through heading into the fourth quarter.
Led by Kayleigh Truong’s 18 points, the Zags had five players hit double-figures in scoring and this was as dominant of a performance that we can potentially expect from the Zags. The game was the perfect display of defense, completely forcing the Gaels out of the gameplan they were hoping for and limiting Bamberger to just six points.
On the offensive side, the Zags used their defense to generate 19 fastbreak points, running sometimes at whim on Saint Mary’s. All of these pieces combined for one of the Zags best conference games, and a clear indicator of their talent when all things are clicking.
It was exactly what the Zags needed to see heading into Saturday’s huge game against BYU. The winner of that game will most likely end up being the WCC regular season champion.