Townsend lifts No. 16 Gonzaga women past San Diego 69-47

Clifford Oto/The Stockton Record
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SAN DIEGO — Jill Townsend scored 16 points, Kayleigh Truong added 13 and No. 16 Gonzaga bounced back after its first loss in more than two months with a 69-47 win over San Diego on Saturday.

Townsend scored just three points in a 61-56 loss to BYU on Thursday but had 12 points in the first quarter when the Bulldogs raced to a 23-10 lead, showing no ill effects from having their 17-game winning streak end.

Against the third-place Toreros, who only played three games in January, including a 58-56 win over BYU because of coronavirus issues, Gonzaga hit 10 of 17 shots shots in the first quarter, including three 3s. San Diego only had a brief 47 seconds in the third quarter trailing by less than double digits.

Melody Kempton had 10 points for Gonzaga (19-3, 14-1 West Coast Conference), which has won 10-straight in the series. Jenn Wirth had 12 rebounds.

Steph Gorman had 13 points for the Toreros (12-6, 9-4) and Myah Pace added 11. Second-leading scorer Jordyn Edwards did not play and forward Kendall Bird left the game midway through the first quarter with an injury and didn’t return. Edwards and Bird had started every game.

San Diego, which allows 58.5 points and is second in the nation with 14.1 steals a game, only forced Gonzaga into 14 turnovers, seven of them steals.

The Bulldogs, who allow 56.5 points, had 11 steals among their 18 forced turnovers. They also held the Toreros to 27.5% shooting (14 of 51). It was their lowest scoring game since shooting 27.1% in a conference opening loss.

Gonzaga closes out the regular season with two home games, beginning Thursday against Pepperdine. San Diego is home against Pepperdine on Monday.

Gonzales, Harding lift BYU women over No. 16 Zags 61-56

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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PROVO, Utah —  Shaylee Gonzales scored 16 points, Paisley Harding scored the last four points to clinch the game and BYU ended No. 16 Gonzaga’s 17-game winning streak with a 61-56 win on Thursday night.

After the Cougars scored eight-straight points to lead by 10 – the only time a lead touched double figures – and the Bulldogs came back with an 11-2 run, Harding came up with the key plays.

Leading 57-56, BYU used up all of the shot clock before Harding hit a floater in the lane with 13 seconds to go. After a Gonzaga miss and two fouls, Harding went to the line with five seconds to go and finished it off.

Harding scored 12 points and Lauren Gustin and Sara Hamson had 10 each for BYU (15-3, 11-2 West Coast Conference), which has won six straight since losing 63-56 in Spokane. Gustin had 10 rebounds, Gonzales seven assists and Hamson five blocks.

Gonzaga led 29-23 but with Gonzales scoring all five of her first-half points in the final minute the Cougars closed within 31-30. She then had nine in the third quarter, including a buzzer-beating 3, for a 47-43 lead.

Jenn Wirth had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Gonzaga (18-3, 13-1) and Melody Kempton added 10.

BYU, the only WCC team to be within single digits of the Zags since Loyola Marymount in the opener in late December, shot 49% (24 of 49), the highest percentage allowed by Gonzaga this season, helping the Cougars overcome 16 turnovers and 7 of 13 shooting from the foul line.

Gonzaga went 4 of 16 from 3-point range and shot 38% (22 of 58), their worst shooting game since the conference opener.

Gonzaga is at third-place San Diego, the other WCC team to defeat BYU, on Saturday. Portland is at BYU on Saturday.

Balance key as No. 17 Gonzaga women top Santa Clara 67-50

Clifford Oto/The Stockton Record
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SPOKANE, Wash. — Melody Kempton and twins Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth each scored 12 points and No. 17 Gonzaga used a big second quarter to defeat Santa Clara 67-50 on Saturday.

Jill Townsend added 10 points for the Bulldogs (18-2, 13-0 West Coast Conference), who have won 17 straight.

Gonzaga, which bolted to a 27-10 lead after one quarter en route to a 71-52 victory in the first meet, matched its lowest opening quarter of the season on Saturday for a 12-8 lead.

The teams swapped 3-pointers in the first 70 seconds of the second quarter before the Bulldogs took over on both ends, scoring 19 straight to lead 34-11 at the half. Gonzaga was 8 of 14 from the floor with Kempton scoring eight points while the Broncos missed nine shots and had six turnovers.

Santa Clara (12-8, 8-6), which had won four of five, made a push in the third quarter, using an 11-0 run to outscore the Zags 24-12. The Broncos pulled within 41-33 on a 3-pointer by Lana Hollingsworth to cap the run at the 2:17 mark. Abby O’Connor answered with a 3 and Cierra Walker hit a pair of free throws for Gonzaga before Santa Clara pulled within 46-35 when Ashlee Maldonado laid it in as time ran out.

Gonzaga quickly regained control with Jenn Wirth scoring the first points of the fourth quarter and LeeAnne Wirth the next four.

The teams matched up statistically except for rebounding where the Bulldogs had a 43-24 lead. With an 18-5 difference in offensive rebounds and the Zags going plus-5 on turnovers, Gonzaga put up 17 more shots.

Merle Wiehl led Santa Clara with 11 points.

Gonzaga is scheduled to play at second-place BYU on Thursday. Santa Clara has a Tuesday game at Loyola Marymount.

No. 1 Gonzaga coasts to 82-71 victory over BYU

Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
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PROVO, Utah — Jalen Suggs scored 24 points and Drew Timme had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead top-ranked Gonzaga past BYU 82-71 on Monday night.

Andrew Nembhard added 15 points and Corey Kispert had 13 as the Bulldogs (19-0, 10-0 West Coast Conference) led wire-to-wire in their 23rd straight victory.

The most recent loss for Gonzaga, a 91-78 setback against BYU, came on Feb. 22 last year when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 2 in the nation.

“We just remembered last year,” Timme said. “It’s still a bitter taste in my mouth.”

Alex Barcello led BYU with 20 points, and Brandon Averette added 14 points and a team-high six assists. The Cougars (15-5, 6-3) lost for the sixth time in their last seven home games against the Zags.

BYU cut the deficit to eight in the second half before the Bulldogs held the Cougars to two baskets over a seven-minute span.

“In that (seven)-minute stretch where we lost our fight, we lost our physicality,” Barcello said. “We just can’t have that happen when we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country.”

Gonzaga quickly put BYU in a big hole and the Cougars spent the rest of the first half trying to climb out of it. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-2 lead four minutes in after scoring seven points off four turnovers. Five players had a basket, and Suggs capped the opening burst with a pair of buckets.

That early tenacity on defense set an aggressive tone that Gonzaga kept up until the closing minutes.

“It always helps us get going,” Timme said. “We like to run and gun, so it’s nice to get some cheap ones and get ahead.”

BYU got within 19-13 on a 3-pointer by Averette, but Gonzaga did not let the Cougars get any closer before halftime.

Suggs and Timme combined to score five baskets over five consecutive possessions to fuel a 15-6 run. Timme capped the spurt with a jumper that gave the Bulldogs their largest lead of the first half at 34-19.

“They came out playing with tremendous pace,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “They’re deceptively physical. They took it to us again in terms of the physicality of the game.”

BYU trimmed the margin to 52-44 early in the second half on a layup from Connor Harding. Nembhard slammed the door on a comeback, scoring three baskets over a two-minute stretch to push Gonzaga’s lead back to double digits.

The Bulldogs used a 20-6 run to build a 72-50 advantage with 7:19 remaining. Gonzaga hit nine straight shots during that stretch while shutting down the Cougars. Suggs made four of them, including on three straight possessions.

“He was on it from the jump,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “He was back to playing at pace, like everyone was.”

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs led the nation in field goal percentage entering the game, connecting on 55.1% of their attempts. Gonzaga shot 50.8% against BYU.

BYU: Turnovers were a recurring problem. BYU coughed up the ball 19 times, leading to 26 points for Gonzaga. “We’re at our best when we’re up into the ball,” Few said.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga visits San Francisco on Saturday.

BYU plays at Pacific on Feb. 18.

Timme’s late spark lifts No. 1 Gonzaga past Pacific 76-58

Rich Pedroncelli/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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STOCKTON, Calif. — Gonzaga coach Mark Few didn’t mind another shuffling of the schedule. That’s become the norm around college basketball this season, particularly in the West Coast Conference.

It was the way No. 1 Bulldogs got pushed around during their rescheduled game against Pacific that bothered Few.

Drew Timme scored 21 points after a sluggish start and top-ranked Gonzaga overcame a sloppy performance to beat Pacific 76-58 on Thursday night.

“We had to dig deep and find some toughness because we didn’t have it there in the first half,” Few said. “They took the fight to us for pretty much that whole first half. We just weren’t playing very smart. Plan A wasn’t working, plan B wasn’t working and we had to hang with it and we finally figured it out with plan C.”

The Bulldogs (18-0, 9-0 West Coast Conference) trailed at halftime for only the second time this season and didn’t pull away until midway through the second half, extending the nation’s longest active winning streak to 22 games dating to 2019-20.

This one tested Gonzaga’s will as much as its talent. The Bulldogs were pushed around and played timidly on offense until Timme made back-to-back dunks early in the second half.

“We kind of got together in our little huddle and just said let’s go,” freshman Jalen Suggs said. “Drew made a big play on that dunk and got us fired up. From then on we played with really good fire. We went out and we attacked them. We stopped being victims.”

WCC leading scorer Corey Kispert had an off night. He was held to two points in the first half and spent much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble, but he scored 11 points in a two-minute burst and finished with 14.

Timme, the second-leading scorer in the conference behind his teammate, had eight points as part of a 15-2 run that gave the Bulldogs breathing room.

Suggs had 19 points, including an emphatic dunk that made it 70-54, and nine rebounds.

“It’s really hard when everybody around them nationally and everything just thinks you’re going to breeze through stuff, but it’s not reality,” Few said. “Teams are going to try different things and (Pacific) mucked it up a little bit and we probably didn’t handle that as well as we could have.”

Daniss Jenkins scored 13 points for Pacific (5-5, 2-4).

“I felt like we had it. It was right there for us,” Jenkins said. “Obviously we came up short. We had a couple turnovers in crunch time. Little mistakes like that.”

The Tigers had designs on an upset for much of the night before fading down the stretch, and Pacific’s frustrations boiled over following Kispert’s second straight 3-pointer in the second half. Coach Damon Stoudamire picked up a technical and had to be pulled away from referees.

“We’re not happy about losing. We’re past that here,” Stoudamire said. “We had a lot of opportunities. We missed a lot of open shots. When (Gonzaga) needed to turn it up another notch, they did on the defensive end.”

The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 25 but was moved forward three weeks after both teams had multiple games canceled or postponed this week due to COVID-19 issues. The Zags had home games against Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara wiped out while the Tigers had a pair of games against San Diego delayed.

Gonzaga was held to a season-low 31 points in the first half. When the two teams played in Spokane on Jan. 23, Gonzaga led by 31 at halftime on the way to its most lopsided win of the season, 95-49.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won 15 consecutive games by double digits, the longest streak by a No. 1 team since UNLV ran off 19 in a row in 1990-91. That said, this one won’t make Few’s list of memorable wins. The Zags were out of rhythm for most of the game.

Pacific: The Tigers fell to 1-19 against the Bulldogs but this was by far one of their best efforts. Stoudamire’s team showed a lot of grit and gave Gonzaga its biggest scare of the season.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: Plays at BYU on Monday night. The Bulldogs beat BYU 86-69 on Jan. 7 in Utah.

Pacific: After having a pair of games against San Diego wiped out due to coronavirus issues, the Tigers will play at Loyola Marymount on Feb. 13. Pacific has won three straight in the series.

No. 1 Gonzaga overcomes slow start, beats Pepperdine 97-75

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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MALIBU, Calif. — Top-ranked Gonzaga proved again Saturday night that it might be one of the deepest teams in the country.

The Bulldogs had six players score in double figures in a 97-75 rout of Pepperdine. It is the second time this season the Bulldogs have had six or more players score in double figures.

“Scoring might not be the primary role for some guys but with this team everyone is so good,” said Aaron Cook, who had a career-high 15 points off the bench. “You have to pick your poison and live with the results. It is hard to focus on two guys when the rest of the team can score.”

Drew Timme led the way with 19 points and Corey Kispert, the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer, added 16 for Gonzaga (17-0, 8-0 West Coast Conference), which has won 21 straight games dating to last season. Andrew Nembhard came off the bench and finished with 17 points and eight assists,

The Bulldogs, who lead the nation in scoring offense, were 28 of 34 on 2-point field goals with all but eight of those baskets being layups.

Pepperdine jumped out to a 15-7 lead before Gonzaga took control with a 21-2 run. The outburst included 16 straight points. Timme had six points during the seven-minute span while Anton Watson and Cook added four apiece.

The Bulldogs missed four of their first five shots before making 13 of the next 17. They had a 49-34 lead at halftime, with their largest advantage being 32 points late in the second half.

“In the first half, our defense got us going. Pepperdine got after us a little bit early and then I thought our defense started making some plays which allowed us to get in transition,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

Colbey Ross led Pepperdine (7-8, 3-3) with 16 points and seven assists, and Sedrick Altman scored 14.

“Gonzaga took advantage when we were negligent with the ball and made us pay for it,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They exploited us and exposed every weakness that we had. It’s that simple. We can talk about improving, but they were better than us.”

HOT, THEN COLD

Pepperdine made seven of its first 10 from the field before going 7 of 24 the remainder of the first half. The Waves missed eight straight shots and committed four turnovers during Gonzaga’s run of 16 straight points.

BATTLING BACK

Gonzaga has trailed for only 21 minutes, 42 seconds in its eight conference games. The Bulldogs trailed for 8:32 during the first half on Saturday, marking only the second time they have been behind for eight or more minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won their WCC games by an average of 25.3 points. All of them have been by double digits, with the 14-point win over Saint Mary’s being the closest.

Pepperdine: The Waves were looking to continue their momentum after Wednesday’s win over BYU, but couldn’t sustain it. They have lost 41 straight to Gonzaga, which is tied for the third-longest losing streak to an opponent in NCAA Division I basketball history.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Gonzaga will extend its streak to 11 consecutive polls as the nation’s top-ranked team when the new AP Top 25 is released on Monday afternoon. It will also mark the first time since Kentucky in 2015 that a school has been at the top from preseason to the first week of February.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga was scheduled to host Loyola Marymount on Thursday, but the Lions game against San Diego was postponed on Saturday after a positive test. If Thursday’s game is called off, the Bulldogs’ next game won’t be until Feb. 11 at Santa Clara.

Pepperdine faces San Diego on Thursday in the second of three straight home games.