Women's Hoops Blitzes Gonzaga For 20th Win

Women's Hoops Blitzes Gonzaga For 20th Win

Spokane, Wash - Down 11 in the second half, the Pacific women's basketball team unleashed a 27-4 run on Gonzaga to claim a 71-59 win Saturday and win for the 20th time this season. The Tigers handed the Bulldogs (22-5, 15-1) their first conference loss of the year by holding Gonzaga to 1-of-13 shooting with eight turnovers over a 12:00 minute stretch in the second half.

Pacific improves to 20-7 on the year, 12-4 in WCC play. Kendall Kenyon posted a double-double with 12 points an 11 rebounds, while Hailie Eackles scored 16 points with three three-pointers. Erin Butler added 10 points on a trio of three-pointers an a free-throw on a four-point play, while Madison Parrish finished with 11 points and three steals.

Najah Queenland grabbed five rebounds and scored five points, but her tenacity on defense kickstarted the Tigers run. With Queenland in the game, the Tigers out-scored Gonzaga 40-21 in 17 minutes on the afternoon.

Gonzaga had won 31 consecutive home conference games dating back to 2012, but the Tigers spoiled the Bulldogs senior day and sent the sold out McCarthey Center crowd home stunned.

Gonzaga opened with a 6-0 lead on a three and three free throws from Elle Tinkle. Kenyon put Pacific on the board off a feed from Parrish, and Luaulu-Summers added a long jumper, but Gonzaga scored in the paint and in transition for a 10-4 lead.

Desire Finnie added a jumper, but Emma Wolfram's lay-up kept Gonzaga out in front, 15-6 before Kristina Johnson drained a pull-up jumper to cut the deficit to nine.

Pacific's defense started forcing turnovers, and Erin Butler converted a four-point play, hitting a triple while being fouled. Najah Queenland added an open three to cut the margin to 21-19.

Gonzaga maintained the lead fro the free throw line, while Queenland drove for a bucket to keep the Tigers within two. Eackles cut the margin to one at 26-25, but Wolfram scored on a put-back and the Bulldogs added a free throw for a 29-25 lead at the break.

Pacific shot just 29 percent (10-of-34) in the first half, including 2-of-11 from three-point range.  But the Tigers forced 12 first-half turnovers and attempted 10 more field goals than Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs shot 38 percent in the first half (9-of-24), but attempted 10 more free throws. Gonzaga, which entered the game eighth in the NCAA in free throw percentage hit 9-of-13 from the line.

Gonzaga opened the second half with a 10-2 run to lead 39-27. After a pull-up from Johnson, Finnie spun and finished at the rim. Madison Parrish added a triple but back-to-back lay-ups inside from Wolfram left Gonzaga up 45-34 with 14:00 to play.

Kenyon hit a jumper and the Tigers posted a stop on defense. A three from Butler brought Pacific within five at 45-40, and Eackles added another three for nine-straight points. The Tigers forced a turnover and Kenyon tallied the game-tying bucket.

Off a steal, Eackles finished in transition with an and-one to cap a 12-0 and give the Tigers their first lead.

Georgia Stirton ended the drought for Gonzaga by beating the shot clock with a three-pointer, but the Tigers scored another nine in a row, as Parrish scored on a backdoor feed and Kenyon hit a lay-up. Butler's three from the top of the key gave the Tigers a 10-point lead, at 58-48 before Sunny Greinacher hit a free throw.

Eackles hit her third three of the game with 2:06 to play as Pacific led by a dozen, 61-49. The Tigers hit 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Gonzaga, who clinched the Bulldogs' 11th straight regular season WCC title Thursday, hadn't lost a conference game at home since January 12, 2012 - the same day Kenyon made her first career start for Pacific (then a Big West member). Kenyon posted her 47th career double-double in her 110th career start on Saturday.

Tinkle finished with 13 points to lead the Bulldogs.

After Gonzaga hit 4-of-5 to open the second half, the Tigers defense held them to 7-of-26 the rest of the way. Pacific shot 50 percent (14-of-28) in the second half.

The Tigers remain in a second-place tie in the WCC with two games to play. Pacific, Saint Mary's and San Diego are 12-4 in league play, while BYU is fifth at 11-5.

The Tigers return home to close the regular season against Santa Clara (Thursday, 7 p.m.) and San Francisco (Saturday, 2 p.m.).