The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team used late first half surge and a big opening second half to defeat Pepperdine University 80-46 Thursday night at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
The Bulldogs 34-point victory pushed their overall mark to 16-5 overall mark and gave them a 6-1 record in West Coast Conference. The Waves, who the Zags will play a week from Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center, fell to 4-13 on the year and 1-5 in league.
Gonzaga and Pepperdine did play a tightly contested first half with three ties and three lead changes. No team lead by more than three points until there was less than ten minutes left in the opening 20 minutes.
It was senior Taelor Karr who heated up and her shooting allowed Gonzaga to finally start breaking away from the Waves. Karr drained the first of her two 3-pointers in the half to push a slight one-point advantage to a 17-13 lead with 9:24 left in the half. Pepperdine responded with its own 3-pointer by Shay Cooney-Williams, but Karr again drained a 3-pointer which started a 13-3 run that opened up an 11-point edge at 30-19 with 4:33 remaining in intermission.
It wasn’t just the shooting of Karr that sparked the Zags, it was also the sharp-shooting of senior Meghan Winters. The guard came off the bench to contribute eight points in the 13-2 run, including two 3-pointers.
The Waves got within seven points of the Bulldogs but the inside post play of redshirt freshman Shelby Cheslek allowed Gonzaga to go into the locker room with a double-figure lead at 36-25. The 6-5 center closed out the Zags scoring with a jumper and layup.
Gonzaga forced Pepperdine to turn the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes and scored 17 of its 36 points off those miscues.
The first four minutes of the second half was biggest for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga rattled off an impressive 11-0 run to really break open the ballgame at 49-25. Four players scored in the spurt with junior Jazmine Redmon leading the charge with five points.
Pepperdine was held to 0-4 shooting in those first four minutes and turned the ball over three times. The Waves did not score a point until the 15:56 mark when Keitra Wallace converted an old fashion 3-point play.
The closest Pepperdine got down the stretch was 14-points after a 6-0 run put Gonzaga’s lead at 51-37 with 13:21 to play. After Tessa Emerson sank two free throws, the Waves would only score nine points over the final 13:21, including three points on free throws in the final minute.
Three of the Bulldogs five starters registered double-figure points and were led by Karr with a game-high 15 points. She also had seven assists and one steal on the night. Junior Haiden Palmer added 12 points and three steals, while Cheslek chipped in 10 points and five blocks.
In total, all 14 players saw action for the Zags with 10 scoring.
Pepperdine was led by Amanda Lovely with 12 points. Cooney-Williams added 10.
Gonzaga forced the Waves to turn the ball over 24 times, scoring 32 points off those turnovers. The Bulldogs also had 22 fast break points and 31 points were scored by the bench.
The Bulldogs now has a short respite as they don’t play again until next Thursday when they host Loyola Marymount University at 6 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center.