No. 17 Zags run away from No. 20 Missouri State in 64-52 victory

No. 17 Zags run away from No. 20 Missouri State in 64-52 victory

The No. 17 Gonzaga women’s basketball team used a 22-point third quarter to build a double-digit lead and run away from No. 20 Missouri State Friday evening inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.

With the win, Gonzaga finishes the non-conference season with an 11-1 overall record, the second-straight non-conference season the Bulldogs have finished with jus t one loss.

“Some games we’re going to make a bunch of threes, some games we’re going to shoot a bunch of free throws, some games we’re going to force a bunch of turnovers,” head women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier said. “We can find a way to be successful, and that is something I think we should be confident about…Stick with it, work hard, do the little things and the dirty work and we can do a lot of big things.”

Gonzaga (11-1) was led in scoring by Jenn Wirth with 14 points off 7-of-12 from the floor to go along with seven rebounds, one assist and one steal. Katie Campbell also finished in double-figures with 11 points. The senior added three steals, two rebounds and an assist. Jill Townsend added a team-high nine rebounds—which ties a season-high–eight points, two assists and a steal.

Both teams were off to a slow start in the first quarter, and with 2:15 remaining GU’s Louise Forsyth hit a trey to give the Bulldogs an 11-4 lead. Missouri State (9-2) responded and put together a 5-2 run over the final minutes of the quarter to cut GU’s lead to four (13-9).

The second period featured five ties and two lead changes, and the back-and-forth play continued until Campbell hit a three with 1:25 left to go to put Gonzaga up by three, 25-22. On the ensuing possession, Campbell stole the ball and went the distance to convert the fast-break layup for the Zags with a minute to go, giving Gonzaga the five-point lead (27-22) heading into the break.

Gonzaga erupted in the third period, shooting 62.5 percent from the floor while locking down defensively to force Missouri State into nine turnovers and 35.7 percent shooting. GU limited Missouri State to 12 third-quarter points while scoring 22 to extend its lead to 13 points (45-32).

The Zags maintained a double-figure lead for most of the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 15 points. A late bucket from Elle Ruffridge with 30 seconds to go cut the lead to 12, and neither team scored in the final seconds, giving GU the 64-52 win.

“This was a really tough game,” Campbell said. “[We] kind of pulled away at the end, but it was a battle the entire time. It’s exciting, and we are definitely in high spirits going into this break.”

Missouri State was led by Brice Calip with a game-high 15 points, six rebounds and three assists wheil Alexa Willard added 11 points.

Gonzaga will take a nine-day break for the Christmas holiday and will return to the floor to kick off West Coast Conference play Sunday, Dec. 29 against Portland at 1 p.m. inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.