With all eyes on the return of Elle Tinkle and the debut of transfers Makenlee Williams and Chandler Smith, Jill Barta reminded fans why she was named All-West Coast Conference as a freshman last season.
Barta finished with 21 points on 7-9 shooting to give Gonzaga (1-0) an 86-31 exhibition win over Corban (3-1) in the home opener at the McCarthey Athletic Center Friday night.
Within the first four minutes, Barta registered 11 points, three 3-pointers, two steals, an assist, a defensive rebound, and a basket off an offensive rebound. The only thing the sophomore forward didn’t do was hit her free throw after shooting 83 percent last season — third in the WCC.
“The thing that makes her special is her ability to score inside and outside,” Coach Lisa Fortier said. “We usually like to get her going inside first to open up the outside, but I think she came out and shot the ball tremendously … she had a really good offensive night, did some good things defensively, and overall [played] a very solid game.”
The Zags fired on all cylinders in their first game of the season, thoroughly outplaying Corban on both the offensive and defensive end.
GU proved its depth. The Zags’ bench outscored Corban’s bench 34-8, which allowed the team to distribute minutes throughout the roster. Eleven players played at least 12 minutes on the night.
“We have identified that we have a really deep bench,” Fortier said. “We have a lot of different weapons on the bench. We bring in, in some cases, better shooting, in some cases better scoring, and in some cases better athleticism.”
The Zags’ fast paced offense rolled through the Warriors’ defense. Laura Stockton pushed the tempo and led the team with five assists.
“[Pushing the pace] was definitely one of our goals,” Stockton said. “We have been practicing really hard at just getting the ball up the floor. That was something we lacked last year, so we have been working really hard and I think we did a good job of that today.”
GU shot 59 percent from the field after the first quarter, and finished at 50 percent shooting overall.
The Zags’ pesky defense held the Warriors to a dismal 21 percent shooting percentage overall. The Bulldogs outrebounded Corban 47-23. The defensive pressure led to baskets on the other end. GU picked up 36 points off turnovers compared to Corban’s six.
“I liked our overall intensity,” Fortier said. “I think we did a good job of creating offense off of our defense. That’s where a lot of our transition baskets came from.”
Tinkle got off to a slow offensive start in her first game back since her season-ending injury in January. She scored three points on 1-5 shooting in the first half, and finished with six points on 2-8 shooting in 20 minutes of play.
However, Tinkle provided sparks of energy for her team. In the first play of the second half, the redshirt senior forward stole the ball and delivered a long pass to Kiara Kudron for an easy break-away layup. At 7:29 in the third quarter, Tinkle stole an inbound pass off a Zag bucket and finished the layup with a foul to give her team a quick three points.
Next Up: The Zags will play their first regular season game against Nicholls State on November 12 at 2 p.m. in the McCarthy Center.