No. 12 Gonzaga Picks Up 19th-Straight Win

Gonzaga's Jenn Wirth high-fives Jessie Loera in win over Pepperdine
Gonzaga's Jenn Wirth high-fives Jessie Loera in win over Pepperdine

SPOKANE, Wash. — The No. 12/11 Gonzaga women’s basketball team outlasted visiting San Diego 57-46 Thursday evening to pick up its 19th-straight victory and improve to 21-1 on the season.

The Bulldogs offset a season-high 24 turnovers with a strong defensive showing, limiting the Toreros to just 46 points and 32.8 percent shooting from the floor. It’s the 11th time this season the Zags have limited an opponent to fewer than 50 points.

Jessie Loera led the Zags with a game-high 14 points off 6-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-3 from long range while delivering six assists. Melody Kempton added 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while Jill Townsend delivered her third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“It was a grind; it was hard,” head coach Lisa Fortier said. “I don’t know if there was anything about it that was easy.”

Gonzaga (21-1, 10-0 WCC) had a rough start, committing four-straight turnovers on the first four possessions. San Diego (12-9, 6-4 WCC) built a seven-point lead (11-4) midway through the quarter, but six quick points courtesy of treys from Loera and Kayleigh Truong cut the lead to one to close the period.

The second quarter was all GU as the Zags outscored USD 18-7, sparked by a 17-4 run to open the quarter. Gonzaga led by as many as 11 in the second quarter and headed into the break with a 10-point cushion, 28-18. Townsend contributed six of her 10 total points during the second quarter run.

“It wasn’t our prettiest or best performance of the season,” Townsend said. “There are so many things that we could go back and tweak, but anytime you can get a win against San Diego…they are such a tough team.”

Gonzaga held a double-digit lead for most of the second half, but a quick five-point swing in favor of USD midway through the fourth period quickly cut the lead to seven (49-42) with 4:18 remaining. Townsend converted a layup while Kempton added a jumper in the paint to give GU an 11-point lead (53-42) with just over three minutes remaining. The Zags’ defense held to Toreros at bay to claim the 57-46 win.

“I thought it was a bit of a struggle, but we need that to get better,” Kempton said. “We need to have those struggles to be able to push through and figure ourselves out. If we make mistakes, we need to be able to figure out how to get through it. So, it’s always a building point.”

San Diego was led by Jordyn Edwards with 13 points, four rebounds and three steals while Myah Pace added 11 points.

Gonzaga returns to the floor Saturday, Feb. 1 against BYU at 2 p.m., inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.