Jan. 27, 2007
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team gained sole possession of first place in the West Coast Conference with an 87-82 win over the University of San Diego Saturday afternoon in a meeting of the undefeated co-leaders at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Bulldogs, who improved to 7-0 in the WCC and 15-8 overall, broke the Toreros (17-4, 6-1) seven-game winning streak and gave them only their fourth loss of the season.
The Zags, coming off a dismal shooting night against the University of San Francisco on Thursday, were sensational from the field on Saturday in hitting 51 percent (29-57) of their shots, including a sizzling 73 percent (8-11) of their 3-pointers.
Gonzaga, who played most of the first half without senior Stephanie Hawk due to foul trouble, went into halftime with a 41-31 lead on the solid play of sophomore Jami Bjorklund and freshman Heather Bowman. Bjorklund had 13 first-half points on 5-for-11 shooting from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc. Bowman added 12 points, six rebounds and three huge blocks for the Bulldogs.
Bjorklund finished with a career-high 25 points, one of nine players in double digits in the contest. Bowman scored 20 points, Hawk contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season and her sixth in seven WCC outings and Elliott scored 10 points.
Amanda Rego paced USD with 19 points, one of five Toreros in double figures.
Leading by only three with less than seven minutes to play in the first half the Zags strung together a 10-2 run to open a 32-21 lead. Bjorklund drained a 3-pointer and hit two jumpers, while Bowman converted an old fashion 3-point play to give GU its largest lead to that point.USD opened the second half with a 14-6 run to slice Gonzaga's lead to 47-45 with 14:22 remaining. But the Bulldogs fought off the challenge with a 7-0 run of their own on a pair of free throw by Hawk, a jumper by Bowman and a trey by Rachel Kane.
With the Bulldogs leading 65-60 with 5:28 to play the Bulldogs to back-to-back 3-pointers from Michelle Elliott and a jumper from Bjorklund to increase the lead to 73-60 with 3:29 to go. Bjorklund's basket would be the last field goal of the night for Gonzaga as the Bulldogs scored their final 14 points from the free throw line. Gonzaga went 14-for-17 from the charity stripe in the final 2:55 and finished 21-for-26 from the line for the game.
Despite Gonzaga's free throw proficiency down the stretch the Toreros managed to cut the 13-point Gonzaga lead the final 5-point margin five times down the stretch. USD's Amber Sprague hit a jumper with 51 seconds left to cap a 14-6 Toreros' run and cut the Gonzaga lead to 79-74. But Gonzaga made its final nine free throws from that point to hold off USD.
Gonzaga opens the second half of WCC play at home next Thursday with a 7 p.m. game against Pepperdine University to be televised on ESPNU, followed by a Saturday visit from Loyola Marymount University at 2 p.m.