Big Second Half Allows Zags To Run Away From UC Riverside
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team used an all-around impressive second half to roll to an 87-43 victory over visiting UC Riverside Monday night in front of 5,146 Bulldog faithful at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The 25th ranked Bulldogs – up just six points at 36-30 heading into halftime – exploded for 51 points in the second stanza and, more importantly, held the Highlanders to only 13 points. It’s the third game this season Gonzaga held an opponent to 13 points in a half, the other two coming in the opening 20 minutes of victories over both Colgate University and Portland State University.
“I thought the way we came out the second half – and even starting toward the end of the first half – we picked up the intensity and the pressure,” explained Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves.
Turnovers were aplenty for the Highlanders all game. UCR turned the ball over six times in the final five minutes of the first half which turned its one-point lead into GU’s six point halftime advantage. The Bulldogs defensive pressure continued in the final half as they forced another 10 Highlander turnovers, resulting in 19 GU points.
After UC Riverside hit 13 field goals in the first stanza, including four 3-pointers, the Highlanders were held to four field goals on 21 attempts in the final half. Five of their 13 second half points came from the charity stripe.
Gonzaga itself hit only four more field goals in the second half then it did in the first. The difference maker was the 3-pointer as junior Lindsay Sherbert hit a career-high five 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes.
“I think Sunny really got us going in the second half; she got some really easy buckets and finished well,” stated Sherbert. “I think everyone played well tonight. Haiden got a lot of steals on that defensive end that got us going. It was a good overall night for everyone.”
Greinacher scored her 11 second half points in a three minute span, starting with an old fashion 3-point play at the 16:52 mark. She then scored the next seven points for the Zags and nine out of the next 11 to break open the contest at 53-36 with 13:33 remaining.
“We do a lot of position breakdowns and post ups, so it was good to finally do that in a game again,” stated Greinacher whose five field goals in the second half came in the paint. “I think teams have really been concentrating on Haiden and Lindsay, so it’s good for me because it opens up the paint.”
Sherbert took over the scoring from Greinacher as she drained her first of five 3-pointers at the 13:05 mark to give GU the 20-point advantage at 56-36. Her opening trey started a 22-4 spurt that ultimately put the score at 78-40 with 6:47 on the clock. The University of California transfer allotted for 15 of the 22 points.
Gonzaga’s largest lead was its final 44-point margin. The Bulldogs have defeated an opponent by forty of more points four times this season. It is the third largest margin of victory for GU this season.
Greinacher finished the contest tying a career-high with 21 points. She was nearly perfect from the field, missing just two of her 11 field goal attempts. She also sank all three free throws. Sherbert added 19 points and four assists.
Palmer ended the game with nine steals – one off her career high. She added nine points and four boards.
UC Riverside was led by Brittany Crain with 11 points.
Gonzaga improved its record to 9-2 on the year, while UC Riverside fell to 4-5 overall.
The Bulldogs now focus their attention on Washington State University. GU plays at WSU Saturday, Dec. 21 at 11:30 a.m. The game can be seen on the PAC-12 Network.