SPOKANE, Wash. — Big swings on a big stage left Saturday’s game between the West Coast Conference’s top two teams down to one possession.
With 8.8 seconds left on the clock, the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team could not get a shot off in time, as the ball ended up in the hands of Laura Stockton, who seconds earlier had put the Bulldogs ahead, and Gonzaga escaped again, this time 59-58 at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Stella Beck hit two free throws with 26 seconds left to put Saint Mary’s up 58-57. But Stockton followed that up with a pull-up jumper inside the free-throw line to give Gonzaga (21-4, 11-2 WCC) the 59-58 lead. The lead changed four times in the fourth quarter alone, 19 times in the game. Saint Mary’s (15-10, 9-4 WCC) started the fourth with an 11-2 run to erase a four-point deficit and grab a 52-47 advantage. But Gonzaga called a timeout to stop the run, then came out and went on their own 8-0 stretch to take a 55-52 lead.
Devon Brookshire had a team-high 13 points for Saint Mary’s and eight rebounds. Megan McKay led all players with 10 rebounds while Beck gave SMC two double-figure scorers with 11. Kiara Kudron scored a game-high 14 points. The Gaels held GU’s leading scorer Jill Barta, who scored 33 points in Moraga, Calif., on Jan. 14, to just 2 for 12 shooting. But the Bulldogs kept pace with balance, boasting seven players with at least five points.
Saint Mary’s struggled with turnovers and from the free-throw line. SMC committed 22 turnovers to Gonzaga’s eight. The Bulldogs scored 16 points off of SMC’s turnovers. Meanwhile, the Gaels were 7 for 15 (46.7 percent) from the charity stripe.
The third quarter was a prime example of the two teams going back and forth. In the final five minutes of the third, the teams traded scoring in bunches of four and five points four straight times. Gonzaga got the last spurt, getting a 3-pointer and fastbreak layup from Makenlee Williams.
Big runs and opposing droughts defined the first half. Saint Mary’s got out to an 18-7 lead early in the first quarter while at the same time Gonzaga missed 11 straight shots. The tables turned in the second, as Gonzaga closed the half on a 13-3 run and took a slim 29-28 lead into the break.
Saint Mary’s concludes its road trip on Thursday at Loyola Marymount. The Gaels then return home for their final two home games of the regular season. SMC hosts BYU on Saturday, then holds its Senior Day on Feb. 23 versus Pepperdine. Tickets for the final home games of the year are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
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