Well, I didn’t get to watch this game live because the Pac-12 decided to make this available only for those with cable options, FuboTV, or VidGo so I had to catch the visuals on replay. Let me use this moment to yell at the clouds as I bemoan the fragmentation of streaming and let executives know that this disgusting business model will cause your downfall as consumers will be returning to the high seas once again. Just do better.
If you too also struggled to watch this game, Women’s Basketball Alliance was able to post an edited version of the game here. Although this was a great resource for me to actually know what happened, I’m not going to do the usual game summary because without some of the natural breaks and flow of a game, it was a bit hard for me to process each quarter individually.
So, what to make of this tough victory after thoroughly beating a top-ranked Stanford game? Well first, I don’t think there’s anything to panic about: sometimes shots aren’t going to fall and it’s great to see this team able to respond in different ways on the court. However, it’s a bit concerning that outside of the starting lineup, there really isn’t anyone coming off the bench ready to add buckets or at least looking to add buckets. This can be highlighted in the second quarter when Esther was in the game and her defender was posted up in the paint helping double-team Yvonne. Even when Little got the ball on the three point line, she immediately would look to only pass it away or dribble inside towards defenders. I like what Esther can bring, but man, we need at least some bench points to spell the starters. I’m also starting to get a bit worried about the defense struggling to handle athletic teams, particularly athletic guards, because if the perimeter is getting beat off the drive, it almost seems like an easy bucket follows suit.
That being said, let’s not get all doom and gloom here because they don’t ask how, they ask how many. Ejim’s consistency continues as she dropped 21 points (9-19 FG) and nearly posted a triple double with 9 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. The efficiency wasn’t quite where she has shown it to be this season, but when the outside shots aren’t falling from your teammates, it can get clogged up inside and Cal didn’t back down from that opportunity.
Brynna Maxwell continued her aggressive attitude on offense as she hoisted 11 three pointers, making five, on her way to scoring 18 points (6-17 FG). Importantly, she clutched up when things were looking bleak by dropping 12 points in the second half to go along with 2 steals. While she had a quite start to the season, Brynna’s shot-hunting on offense is certainly nice to see as I think it can help open up the inside for Yvonne more and if done right, can help with better shots for the Truong’s (when one of them isn’t assisting of course) and the secondary big, particularly with high-low looks.
Kaylynne Truong may not have shot well (just one made three pointer on five total shots), but she added 12 assists while only making 3 turnovers. While those assist numbers are otherworldly, Gonzaga needs her to do better in this area moving forward. Kayleigh Truong had a bit of a bounce-back game as she posted 14 points along with 6 assists and 0 turnovers, but she her shooting efficiency was not particularly impressive as she shot 3-8 from the field (2-7 from three point range) and needed the free throw line to get above 10 (6-8 FT).
Eliza had a shooting game she’ll need to quickly forget after going 1-11 from the field and 0-6 from three point range while also adding just 3 rebounds in her 35 minutes. One has to wonder why Fortier wasn’t playing Maud or even Naya more given this performance.
Callie Stokes’ playing time has really increased since the start of the Van Chancellor Classic (just under 22 mpg) and she’s really showing her versatility on the glass as she’s averaging 5.5 rebounds per game including 3 offensive rebounds per game. In last night’s game, she snagged 9 rebounds while adding 8 points in 24 minutes. While she’s not offering much scoring threat (hasn’t eclipsed 10 points in any contest this season), she’s putting herself in the best position possible to help this team succeed.
When looking at the team’s performance, the rebounding intensity from the Stanford game certainly carried over as the Zags posted 45 rebounds, including 18 offensive rebounds, compared to just 37 total and 6 offensive rebounds for the Golden Bears. However, it’s concerning that the Bears converted their offensive rebounds into 7 second chance points while the Zags could only convert 11. This owes to numerous missed layup chances that are seeming to crop up nearly every game and something that, if improved upon, could really seal wins against tough opponents come tournament time.
Another important factor is winning the turnover battle. I am not a fan of turnovers so when I see a game devoid of the quality shooting Gonzaga is known for this season, I am happy that the Bulldogs only allowed 7 in this overtime game and even happier that this lead to only 4 points by the Golden Bears. Meanwhile, the Zags forced Cal into 14 turnovers that they turned into 20 such points. This, along with the rebounding, are certainly the keys to this victory as ZagDad84 noted in the game thread comment section.
Next game is tomorrow against Rice in Houston, TX which will represent the second time the Truong sisters get to show out in front of their hometown. The game starts at 3pm ET and will be featured on ESPN+.