Sorry for going AWOL everyone. Since I posted the game preview against USD last Thursday, the Gonzaga Women have played three games and won those with varying degrees of certainty. I haven’t covered those matchups because I overestimated my ability to write while traveling back to the PNW for a visit with family and friends. Because of these mistakes, I’m going to review those three matchups today in a single article.
Thursday 2/01 @ USD: 80-52
Another W on the road pic.twitter.com/0h2LPDiBOx— Gonzaga Women's Basketball (@ZagWBB) February 2, 2024
Gonzaga hit the road for their third time in as many games for a matchup against the rain-soaked and winless-in-conference San Diego Toreros. Coming into this matchup, the Bulldogs were shooting 39% from three point range, but you wouldn’t have known it as the team went 2-12 from deep. The Women were still able to lead at halftime, 38-20, thanks to their 13-23 shooting the arc and USD’s inability to string consistent offensive performances across those twenty minutes in which they shot an abysmal 9-36 from the field. It could be said that Gonzaga has the talent to win a game against a team like USD while playing at just 75% intensity, but this team clearly wasn’t ready to test this theory as they kicked off the second half by making 8 straight three pointers en route to 30 points in the quarter and the score 68-37. With such a commanding lead, the Zags seemed to take their foot off the gas in the final quarter as they only posted 12 points, compared to 15 by the Toreros, on 4-12 shooting. Across WCC play, I’m pretty sure Gonzaga has only lost the quarter scoring split maybe 4-5 times, but when you lead by 31 points with only ten minutes left, it’s hard to criticize much and I’m sure the team was just ready to head back home to the friendly confines of the McCarthey Center
- Brynna Maxwell led all scorers with 19 points on 5-10 three point shooting while also contributing 2 steals. She had such a rough first half shooting performance and I continue to be impressed by her confidence on the court to keep shooting even when her shot isn’t falling at certain points in the game.
- Yvonne Ejim had one of her quieter offensive performances of the season with just 14 points and 8 rebounds, but she shot an impressive 6-9 from the floor while also adding 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. This was only the fourth time this season in which she has either failed to score 20 points or grab 10 rebounds in a game, but then again, she only played 21 minutes so context is important.
- After their poor shooting from three point range in the first half, the Bulldogs still managed to shoot an impressive 12-26 from deep this game, which looks even more impressive when you realize that the Toreros shot 17-52 from TWO and their key players, Veronica Sheffey and Kasey Neubert, combined to score just 8 points.
Saturday 2/03 vs Pacific: 104-39
Raining threes yesterday in the Kennel ☔️ ️ pic.twitter.com/TA6oQSeOPq— Gonzaga Women's Basketball (@ZagWBB) February 5, 2024
Let’s just get this out of the way, scoring 104 points is crazy in college basketball and holding your opponent to 39 points is also bonkers. Pacific may not be the best team, but they are still a D1 opponent and currently have the fourth best NET ranking in the WCC at 155, so this dominant performance should be seen as just how dangerous the Gonzaga Bulldogs can be when everything clicks.
The Zags returned home from their three game roadtrip and looked refreshed as they reeled off for 32 points in the first quarter with a patented Yvonne Ejim layup to kick off the day. In the first quarter alone we got to see four different players make a three pointer as the team went 6-10 this period. Personally, I was really excited to see Bree drain her first two attempts as she was only 2-16 on the year entering this matchup. The second quarter started off a bit slow for the Zags as they only scored 7 points in the first five minutes, but were finally able to see Brynna join her teammates in the three point column midway through the period on a nice assist by Bree. Importantly though, the Bulldogs kept up the intensity on the defensive end by allowing Pacific to score just 11 points as the teams went into the half with Gonzaga up 53-23. If you thought the Zags were done pouring on the fire, you would be wrong as the Women held the Tigers to just 6 points this period and ended the quarter on a 15-0 scoring run on their way to 24 points. After a disappointing fourth quarter against USD just two days earlier, Gonzaga seemed reticent to let their historic night end as they dropped 27 points this period while going 5-7 from deep.
- The Bullgods currently hold a 30 game win streak at home, which trails only the vaunted South Carolina Gamecocks.
- The team set some records this game. First, the 65 point scoring margin set a record for the largest margin against a D1 opponent and second all-time with the largest difference being 114-40 against Whitman College in the 2010-11 season. Second, the Zags exploded from deep as they went 19-35 to set a school record for number of threes in a game.
- Pacific only scored 17 baskets across the entire forty minutes. I just want to reiterate, the Bulldogs scored more three pointers than their opponent scored total baskets. How often are we going to be able to say this?
- Seven players from Gonzaga made a three pointer including a lovely one by Yvonne Ejim, which marked only her second attempt this season and elicited a fun reaction from teammates and crowd alike. Definitely a moment that will be highlighted in the end of season montage.
Thursday 2/08 vs Pepperdine: 83-46
Views from our 10th WCC win this season pic.twitter.com/bUlK5ILELT— Gonzaga Women's Basketball (@ZagWBB) February 9, 2024
After two dominate victories, I absolutely expected the Zags to win against lowly Pepperdine, but wasn’t sure how the team would look without Yvonne Ejim, who was suiting up for Team Canada’s push in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
What we got was a solid performance with four Bulldogs reaching double figures led by Kaylynne Truong’s 19 points on 5-7 three point shooting. Kayleigh Truong kicked off the game’s scoring and scored 7 points in the first quarter and finished the game with 14 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and zero turnovers. Maud Hujibens started in place of the missing Ejim and put up a respectable 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in her 25 minutes. Destiny Burton spelled Maud as the first big off the bench and answered the call with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in her 17 minutes.
- After this game, the Zags are shooting 40.5% from three point range, which ranks second in the nation, and 49% overall, which ranks 8th nationally, while also playing the most games in the AP Top 25. Those are some seriously impressive numbers.
- Since the start of WCC play, the Bulldogs are shooting just under 61% overall and 41% from deep while scoring about 83 points per game and holding their opponents to just 51 points. I understand that the WCC may not be the best conference for women’s basketball, but the consistency and determination to not just win, but show the country their greatness is awesome. I’m not sure if the team has an opinion their AP Rank dropping since reaching #16, but from the outside, it seems to me like that disrespect may be helping to keep this team’s edge sharp.
Sorry for dipping out for a while across these three games. I’ll be getting back to our regularly scheduled activity from here on out and hope y’all still keep reading