It’s been a long time waiting for Gonzaga women’s basketball to take the court in the McCarthey Athletic Center. But after a turbulent 2015-2016 season, a hardworking offseason, and a long preseason, the Zags finally made their return.
On Saturday afternoon, the Zags put on a show for their first game of the season, beating Nicholls State University 78 - 46.
This was the first time these two teams met, but the Zags had them figured out from the tip, starting the game with a 20-0 run.
Redshirt senior Elle Tinkle played a big role in that run, scoring the first 11 points of the game.
“I felt that in our exhibition game I came out a little tentative,” Tinkle said. “I haven't played in a long time and I think I was just a little too cautious so I made that a point in this game to come out a little more aggressive and look for my shot. My teammates were able to get me the ball and get me easy looks so I got myself going a little bit. I hope to set the tone to the game like that more often. I think coming out more aggressive like that will be big for me to get myself going and bet back the feel of the game.”
Tinkle finished with 13 points in her first game back since her season-ending knee injury last year.
Her fellow senior, Kiara Kudron, made her presence felt inside, scoring 11 points in the paint on five of seven shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists.
The Bulldogs held the Colonels to a 22.2 shooting percentage from the field and only 16.7 from beyond the arc, while the Zags finished shooting 45.9 percent from the field, 46.2 percent from 3 and 71.4 from the free-throw line.
The Zags’ sophomore class played strong, with Laura Stockton, Zhane Templeton, Jill Barta, Zykera Rice, and Chandler Smith all making an impact.
Templeton lead all scorers with 14 points, while Rice and Smith tallied six points each, Smith grabbed eight rebounds, Barta scored seven and pulled down six rebounds, and Stockton taking command of the floor dishing out four assists.
“[Those five] are going to be a tough class,” Fortier said. “They got some experience as freshman that they might not have gotten if we had an injury-free season, so I think they are really showing that they have gained our trust and they know how to play. They got their feet wet last year and I think they can all do a lot of different things. They showed up tonight.”
No player played more than 21 minutes with all 13 roster members making an appearance. For the coaching staff, this is crucial with having back-to-back games, something they have this weekend and also over Thanksgiving.
Of the 13 players, all but two got on the scoreboard, however, according to Tinkle every single player put their mark on the game in one way or another.
“It’s huge for us at this point of the season when we’re just getting into the game to have everyone getting in the game and getting some minutes under their belts and get a feel for the game,” Tinkle said. “It was huge to have everyone make and appearance and also contribute to the game in some way. Hopefully that will keep progressing and we will have that in every game.”
It’s a quick turnaround for the Zags, who will have their next game Sunday at 2 p.m. in the McCarthey Center as they take on UC Irvine.
“We are going to come in with the same approach to set the tone in the beginning of the game and come out really aggressive,” Tinkle said. “Because we have less time to prepare for them, it’s going to be more about what we can control and just relying on plaint hard, being smart and playing together."