The offense was rolling for the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team from the moment the ball was tipped against Santa Clara University Saturday afternoon. The Zags ran out to a quick 8-0 advantage and went on to easily take the 79-50 victory over the visiting Broncos in front of 5,690 Bulldogs faithful at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“I am extremely happy with today’s win,” stated Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves after the game. “To open league with two quality wins is not only great but also very important. Give credit to Jennifer Mountain and Santa Clara, they played hard and are a good team. They just struggled a bit today.”
A steal by junior Jazmine Redmon followed by a fastbreak layup by the guard started the game off for the Bulldogs. Classmate Haiden Palmer followed with her own steal and fastbreak layup.
Those two impressive plays helped Gonzaga race out to an 8-0 edge and ultimately an 18-2 advantage at the 14:07 mark of the first half. Santa Clara’s only bucket during the first six minutes came at 17:19 mark on a layup by Meagan Fulps. Besides that, the Bulldogs forced the Broncos to turn the ball over six total times and miss their five other shots.
Gonzaga’s continued to extend its lead and held the 32-9 edge at the 4:55 mark after another run, this time an 11-0 run that turned the 21-9 lead to its 23 point advantage. Redmon began the run with a 3-pointer and sophomore Sunny Greinacher closed it out with back-to-back jumpers.
The Bulldogs went into the locker room with a 30-point advantage at 47-17.
“I thought that the first half that we played about as good as we have played all year at both ends of the court,” explained Graves of his team who forced 11 first half turnovers and held the Broncos to 28.0 percent shooting. “We have had halves where we have played one of the two ends very, very well, but maybe not as much at the other end. I thought that today at both ends of the floor we looked pretty good.”
The second half saw 13 of the Bulldogs 14 players score and each player saw quality minutes with no player logging more than 11 minutes.
It was freshman Elle Tinkle who came off the bench and gave Gonzaga its largest lead of the contest. Tinkle hit a mid-range jumper with 8:20 remaining in the game to put the score at 66-30 and the lead at 36 points.
The Zags finished the game shooting an impressive 48.5 percent from the floor (32-of-66) for the game, which included a blistering 52.8 percent (19-of-36) in the opening 20 minutes.
Gonzaga (12-4, 2-0 WCC) was led to the victory by both Palmer and senior Taelor Karr. Palmer scored double-figures for the 15th time this season with a game-high 17 points – 13 of which came in the opening 20 minutes. Karr, coming off a 27 point performance, kept it going with 15 points. She sank 5-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Taelor is starting to play,” stated Graves of Karr who hit 11-of-13 3-pointer over GU’s two opening WCC games this week and averaged 21.0 points per game. “She had a weekend that we thought that she was going to have. If we can continue to get that effort from her, wow. That’s just makes us doubly tough to defend.”
Santa Clara (9-6, 1-1 WCC) was led by Lindsay Leo with a team-high 16 points, along with six boards and three blocks.
Gonzaga now hits the road for the first time since Dec. 7 when it played at Portland State University. The Bulldogs will battle Saint Mary’s College Thursday, Jan. 10 in Moraga, Calif., at 6 p.m. Saint Mary’s also enters the contest with a 2-0 league record.