basketball vs. Portland

After being knocked out of the WCC tournament by the Pilots last season, The Zags beat Portland at home earlier in January were winners of 11 straight going into Sunday's contest.

In a game that was scheduled only two days ago, Gonzaga women’s basketball got a road victory over Portland Sunday 79-61. The No. 20 Zags have now won 12 straight after starting the year 1-2 and GU remains the only unbeaten team in conference play in the West Coast Conference.

Originally scheduled to play San Diego on Thursday and BYU on Saturday, GU was looking to find a game to play in this week after both USD and BYU had to postpone their operations due to COVID-19 complications. Portland similarly had its Thursday matchup against BYU postponed, leaving a compatible vacancy in both GU’s and Portland’s schedule for this Sunday.

The Pilots ended GU’s season last year by knocking the Zags off in the semi-final round of the WCC tournament, but GU came back earlier this year to beat Portland by 32. The Zags haven’t lost a game in the WCC since then and they’re coming off their most recent win against San Francisco on the road over a week ago when Kayleigh Truong put up 17 points and five assists.

Truong matched that performance on Sunday, putting up 17 points again on 6-7 shooting and dishing out five more assists as well. 

It was Jill Townsend who brought the Zags to a handy lead early in the first quarter, scoring six points in the first 10 minutes. Despite falling behind early, Portland finished the first quarter on a 10-4 to bring the game within five before the start of the second quarter. 

The Pilots offense went relatively dark from there however, as their two leading scorers in Alex Fowler and Haylee Andrews accounted for six of Portland’s eight second quarter points. GU’s trap defense in the back court stifled Portland’s ability to swing the ball around the perimeter and find open shots from deep. 

Defense turned to explosive offense for the Bulldogs, with the Zags going on a 9-0 run and then ending the half on an 11-0 run. Townsend got the scoring started for the Zags after putting up a fastbreak layup off of a turnover, one of the ten that GU forced out of Portland in the first half. That layup for Townsend accounted for 1000th of her career, and after ending the game with 11 points and six rebounds, she now has 1003 points in her GU career. 

Up by 21 coming out in the third quarter, the Bulldogs continued to utilize their inside prominence on offense to maintain their strong lead. While the Pilots began to find their own rhythm down low, The Zags were able to go to different players for low down scoring. GU totalled 40 points in the paint and late in the third quarter, the WCC freshman of the week from last week Yvonne Ejim put up six straight in the key.

GU extended their lead to a game-best 26 after those pairs of runs deep in the third quarter, and held the Pilots to 10 points on 1-16 shooting in the period.

After showing little offensive and defensive cohesion in the first three quarters, Portland began to lock in with a full court press in the fourth quarter which helped sparked an offensive run. The Pilots forced seven turnovers out of the Zags in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter and also went on a 16-0 scoring run off of 8-0 scoring. Andrews was able to create space at range against GU’s defense and put up 12 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the match with a game-high 25 points.

With the score now brought to within 13 points, the closest the contest had been since early in the second quarter, GU was looking to get it’s offensive rhythm back. That flow was resurrected by Jenn Wirth, who put up 10 points with perfect shooting from the field in the final five minutes after only being accounted for 4 points on 1-5 shooting up until then.

Obtaining a 17 point lead with 1:30 left to play, GU Head Coach Lisa Fortier subbed out a majority of her starting five and ran the clock down to a 79-61 GU victory.

Now 8-0 in conference play, the Zags look forward to their next scheduled matchup on the road against Pacific on Jan. 28. It will be GU’s fourth straight away game and they’ll have another one against Saint Mary’s on Jan. 30 before the team gets to play in the Kennel again.

Asher Ali is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @asher_ali3.

Sports Editor

Major: Journalism / International Relations Because the ability to tell other people's stories within such a passionate community like GU's is an opportunity unlike any other.

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