The Gonzaga Bulldogs took care of business against the San Francisco Dons, 69-55, setting up a championship game against the BYU Cougars.
The Zags opened the game with a solid first quarter, spreading the wealth and attacking San Francisco in the paint. Seven Gonzaga players hit field goals in the first quarter, and although the team shot just 40 percent from the floor, six offensive rebounds helped provide six second-chance points. The Zags took a 17-10 lead into the second quarter.
The Dons came roaring right back in the second quarter on an 11-0 run thanks to some hot shooting combined with the Zags hitting one of their, unfortunately, characteristic shooting slumps. San Francisco hit three threes but the Zags adapted their defense, switching to more half-court traps to throw the Dons’ offense off balance. Although the Zags shot just 23.5 percent in the second quarter, Gonzaga did just enough to take a five point 31-26 lead into halftime.
Things started swapping a bit in the third quarter. The Zags came out hot before going on a dry spell, but finished the third quarter shooting 46 percent from the floor. The Dons were just 5-of-17 from the floor in the third quarter, but thanks to offensive rebounds and second chance points were able to keep pace, each team scoring 15 points a piece. Gonzaga held on to its five point lead going into the final frame.
The Zags opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, punctuated by an Abby O’Connor three pointer. With Melody Kempton relegated to the bench due to foul trouble for much of the second quarter, Yvonne Ejim filled in exactly how the conference Sixth Woman of the Year should.
The Zags’ defense clamped down on San Francisco, holding the Dons to a nearly four-minute scoring drought. A dagger three-pointer by Kaylynne Truong, her 14th point, helped put the game what effectively felt out of reach with three minutes left. She ultimately finished with 18 points, going a perfect 9-for-9 from the line.
Although it wasn’t the prettiest affair for the Zags on the offensive end, it was an encouraging sign that the Gonzaga defense helped lock down one of the conference’s top scorers. San Francisco’s Ioanna Krimili came into the contest averaging 19.6 points per game. She finished with 20 and was absolutely harassed by the Zags all afternoon, shooting just 6-for-21 on the evening.
With Kempton pretty much a non-starter due to her foul issues, the Zags had an impressive game from Anamria Virjoghe. She showcased a willingness to shoot that isn’t part of her normal game, finishing with eight points and nine rebounds. O’Connor’s 11 points helped offset Kayleigh Truong’s four points. Truong had a brutal shooting night, missing all five three-point attempts and going 0-for-8 from the floor.
The Bulldogs will now face the BYU Cougars for the championship game and the guaranteed right to play in the NCAA Tournament. Through the first two contests this season, the Cougars have definitely had the upper hand. Last season, the Zags and the Cougars met in the championship game with Gonzaga ultimately winning on a last-second shot from Jill Townsend.