It was a meeting of the best of the best in the West Coast Conference on Thursday night in the McCarthey Athletic Center as the Gonzaga hosted BYU.
As the top two teams in their conference, and separated by just one-and-a-half games, there was high expectations as to what would happen.
The reality may not have lived up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping hype, but the Zags put on a show all by themselves, coming out on top 87-52.
“It’s a statement,” Emma Stach said. “We always play them and it’s always tough when we play them. Because of that, it’s even better when you beat them like this.”
The Bulldogs opened the game with a 3-pointer by Stach and took over from there.
GU went on a 12-0 run before BYU could find its second basket of the night.
Stach’s opening 3 was one of her six 3-pointers of the game and she finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Backcourt mate Laura Stockton had an impressive showing as well, scoring 12 points, and dishing out five assists. At the end of the third quarter, Stockton got into some foul trouble, however Fortier left her on the floor.
Overall, the Zags shot 52.9 percent from the floor, 68 percent from beyond the arc and 72.7 percent from the free throw line.
GU made 17 3-pointers, a program best.
“It’s amazing,” Stach said. “Just firing them up like that, I am so proud of my team. To break the program record is amazing. Shooting 17 3s and [doing it by] moving and passing the ball to each other and trusting each other is a big deal. I think we did a really good job.”
At the end of the first half GU had a 37-16 lead over BYU.
A big reason for that wasn't just the fact that the Zags were making their shots, but because the Cougars weren’t hitting theirs.
In the first half, BYU only shot 25 percent from the field and made zero 3-pointers.
“I think [our defense was more important that our 3s],” head coach Lisa Fortier said. “[BYU] shot well in the fourth quarter but overall, in the first three quarters, we did such a good job on those guys. They are very talented players offensively so to hold them to the percentages and point totals they ended up with, it was a very good defensive effort.”
There was a period in the second half that made it seem the Cougars were finally about to get going and make it the show that everyone wanted and expected, but that ended. Quickly.
BYU went on a 11-4 run but the Zags responded by 7-2 run and scored five more 3-pointers.
“I can say that this is one of our best games this season,” Zhane Templeton said. “Offensively and defensively, everything just clicked and we didn’t have many lapses. We played well, played hard and everyone came in and gave something.”
Even with this standout victory, Fortier is making sure her team stays focused on what comes next.
“We still have a ton of conference left,” Fortier said. “We have a hard end to the conference this year. Harder than ever, I think. You have to go one game at a time. This win doesn't give us wiggle room, but it gives us confidence. It gets us to the next game.
Up next, GU will travel to California to take on Santa Clara. The game is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.