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Huge third quarter leads Zags to victory, 79-64

The Zags outscored the Cougars 27-10 to put the game in the right place.

NCAA Womens Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament Semifinals - BYU vs Gonzaga Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The BYU Cougars kept it tight for half of the game, but Yvonne Ejim and company had other ideas, exploding in the third quarter to lead the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a 79-64 victory and a trip to the WCC Tournament Championship.

BYU hung around for the better part of 20 minutes, bringing a balanced scoring attack that was able to fight past overall poor shooting. The Zags, led by Kaylynne Truong, Ejim, and McKayla Williams, weathered their own poor shooting from outside to take a 31-25 lead at half.

The Zags opened the second half with an 8-0 run and from there it was pretty much all over. The Zags absolutely bullied the Cougars in the post, spurred on by Ejim, to the tune of 14 points. Ejim finished the third quarter with 12 points in nine minutes (ultimately leading all Zags with 21 points), helping Gonzaga outscore the Cougars 27-10 and take a 58-35 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Cougars’ offense started to wake up in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately that rarely matters for opponents with Brynna Maxwell is dialed in. Maxwell dropped 13 points of Gonzaga’s 21 points in the fourth quarter, hitting all three three-point attempts, to pretty much single-handedly hold up the Zags’ offense in the fourth quarter.

Despite a bit of lackluster defense to close out the game, overall, the Zags’ defense did what it normally does. The Zags held Lauren Gustin to just nine points off 3-of-9 shooting and forced 23 BYU turnovers. Nani Falatea got her 17 points but shot 4-for-18 from the floor in the process.

Things could probably still be buttoned up a bit more on Gonzaga’s end. Outside of Maxwell, the three point shooting was a bit average, and Gonzaga had 19 turnovers of their own. All in all, however, a good outcome for the Zags who will advance to the WCC Tournament and play the winner between the No. 2 Portland Pilots and No. 6 Pacific Tigers.