Zags Bested by No. 1 Notre Dame to Open Vancouver Showcase

Zags Bested by No. 1 Notre Dame to Open Vancouver Showcase

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team fell 81-65 to No. 1 Notre Dame Thursday afternoon at the Vancouver Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver. The Bulldogs led by as many as seven to open the game and forced 15 turnovers on the Fighting Irish, but UND controlled the glass 50-33 and outscored the Zags 56-34 inside to control the game.

“I thought that we did a nice job coming out from the start,” head coach Lisa Fortier said. “We had great energy, and we were executing how we wanted to. Then we just let them get loose in transition…too many fouls and too many offensive rebounds.”

Zykera Rice led the Bulldogs with 16 points off 6-of-15 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Freshman Melody Kempton had her best game as a Zag to date, finishing with a season-high 14 points to go along with four boards and a game-high three blocks. Laura Stockton chipped in eight points and a team-high seven assists.

Gonzaga (4-1) opened the first quarter fast, racing out to an 8-4 lead behind eight-straight points from Rice. The Zags extended their lead to seven (11-4) following an old-fashioned three-point play from Laura Stockton with 6:43 to go. Notre Dame (4-0) turned up the heat defensively to close the period, forcing all four of Gonzaga’s four first-quarter turnovers in the final five minutes. The Fighting Irish outscored the Bulldogs 14-7 to close the period to take a 21-18 lead.

The Bulldogs cooled off in the second period, shooting 22.7 percent from the floor compared to UND’s 46.7 percent accuracy. The Fighting Irish outscored the Zags 19-11 in the second period to claim a 40-29 lead at the break.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to eight (42-34) following five quick points from Jessie Loera to open the half, but Notre Dame responded with four quick points of its own to extend the lead to double-digits (46-34) once more. Despite shooting 40 percent in the third, Gonzaga fell behind by 15 (60-45) heading into the final period.

In the final period, the Zags were 50 percent from the floor and nearly outscored UND (21-20), but seven Fighting Irish offensive rebounds limited the Zags possessions. Notre Dame continued on for the 81-65 win. Notre Dame’s 16-point win is the smallest margin of victory for the Fighting Irish this season.

“At this stage, we have nothing but to learn from it,” Fortier said. “I think we have a lot we can build on. We can try and rally behind the fact that if we would have built those habits or focused one the habit of checking out every time and really being aggressive on the ball, getting to our help responsibilities, then we can play with a team like that. This early in the season, we are still working on a lot of different parts of our game.”

Five players finished in double figures for the Fighting Irish, led by Arike Ogunbowale with 21. Brianna Turner and Jessica Shepard both added double-doubles; Turner finished with 16 points and five rebounds while Shepard grabbed a game-high 14 boards to go along with 15 points.

Gonzaga will face the loser of the Rutgers/(RV) Drake game Friday at noon.