Nov. 10, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball team started off the 2007 season with a bang by defeating the University of Utah, a 2006 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight team, by the score of 57-45 tonight at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs, who are now 5-0 in home openers, were led by senior forward Stephanie Hawk who finished with a game-high 18 points and eight rebounds.
"We created opportunities, we got intense, got out and ran and that's what got things started for us," said Hawk. "You can't force things; you have to wait for you open shot. As coach Graves always say, if you're on balance and open, just shoot it."
The Bulldogs were strong both offensively and defensively in the first half. Gonzaga held Utah to only 14 points on 6-of-25 shooting. The Zags also forced the Utes to turn the ball over 14 times in the first half, including 10 give a ways in the first 10 minutes.
With the Bulldogs leading 7-5 early in the first half, Gonzaga and Hawk went on a tear with a 12-2 run. Hawk scored six-straight points, junior Michelle Elliot nailed a three-pointer and senior Katy Ridenour made a layup to give GU the 19-7 lead. Utah stopped the run with back-to-back layups by Camie Oakey and Heidi Carlsen, but a three-pointer by Zag sophomore Jami Bjorklund pushed Gonzaga's advantage to 22-11 with 6:01 remaining in the first stanza.
The Bulldogs closed out the half with back-to-back three-pointers by Elliott and Bjorklund to go into the locker room with an impressive 28-14 lead.
Gonzaga continued to roll in the second half pushing its advantage to 18 points, 47-29, after three-straight buckets by the Bulldogs. Hawk and Bjorklund hit back-to-back three-pointers, while by Bjorklund also made a layup.
Utah could not dent the Gonzaga armor and the Zags earned the 12-point victory.
Seventh-year head coach Kelly Graves was happy with his team's opening performance. "Utah is a good team, they have a lot of new kids but you can tell they are going to be a good team," said head coach Kelly Graves. "I loved our defense tonight. We're getting turnovers. I was extremely pleased with how we played and with this season-opening win."
Besides Hawk, Gonzaga was led by Elliott and Bjorklund who both scored 11 points a piece. Elliott also added six rebounds and four assists, while Bjorklund chipped in four rebounds, two steals and one assist. The Bulldogs closed out the game shooting 39.7% (23-58) from the field, including 47.1% (8-17) from behind the three-point arc.
Utah was led by Morgan Warburton and Joh-Teena Filipe who scored 11 and nine points, respectively. Warburton also had seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block, while Filipe added four rebounds. The Utes finished the game shooting 30.5 % (18-59) from the field, including 17.6% (3-17) on three-pointers.
Gonzaga will be back in action this Sunday when it welcomes UC Davis to the McCarthey Center. Game time is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m.