Zags snag 56-42 victory in the City of Roses

PORTLAND, Ore. — The #11/10 Gonzaga women’s basketball team battled its way to a 56-42 victory at Portland Saturday afternoon inside the Chiles Center in Portland, Ore. With the win, Gonzaga finishes WCC play with a conference record-tying 17 wins while extending the program’s best start ever to 28-2.

Gonzaga (28-2, 17-1 WCC) was led in scoring by Jenn Wirth and LeeAnne Wirth who each finished with 14 points. Jenn Wirth logged her sixth double-double of the season with a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with her game-high 14 points.

The Bulldogs controlled the glass 36-32 and edged the Pilots 30-26 in points in the paint. Portland’s 42 points are the fewest scored by the Pilots this season and 28.4 points under its season average of 70.4 points per contest.

The Zags opened the game with a quick 7-2 run to take the early lead, but a quick 6-0 Portland run over the next two minutes put GU behind by one, 8-7. Portland (18-11, 11-7 WCC) held a four-point lead for most of the remainder of the first half, but GU closed the gap to head into the locker room down one, 24-23.

The Bulldogs shot 33.3 percent in the opening half while limiting UP to 35.7 percent shooting. Both teams committed 10 turnovers in the opening half, but Gonzaga claimed an 18-16 edge on the glass.

Jenn Wirth opened the scoring for the second in the third stanza, hitting a jumper in the paint 19 seconds into play. A pair of free throws from Jill Townsend a minute later, followed by a jumper from Kaylynne Truong with just under six minutes to go gave the Zags a four-point lead (32-28). Portland twice cut the lead to two points in the third, but a 6-3 run to close the period gave Gonzaga a six-point buffer (40-35).

Kayleigh Truong kicked off a quick 6-0 Bulldog run to open the fourth period with a layup, and LeeAnne Wirth finished with a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 11 (46-35), the largest of the afternoon thus far. A bucket by LeeAnne Wirth a minute later put GU up by 12 (50-38). Four unanswered Portland points cut the lead to single digits (50-42) with 2:54 remaining, but Gonzaga finished on a 6-0 run to seal the 56-42 win.

“The difference [in the second half] was that we defended the paint much better, and we didn’t settle for crazy early shots,” head coach Lisa Fortier said. “We worked the offense a little bit, we got ball reversals; our percentages go up and up and up the more ball reversals we get.”

Portland was led by Kate Andersen and Haylee Andrews with 10 points each. Andrews added 10 rebounds and four assists.

Gonzaga is set to open the WCC Championships in Las Vegas in the first semifinal of the tournament on Monday, March 9. Tipoff is 12 p.m. inside The Orleans Arena.