MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team led preseason West Coast Conference favorite and rival Gonzaga for more than 33 minutes Saturday, but the Bulldogs cranked up the defensive pressure late and finished the game on a 16-5 run to steal a 79-75 win at McKeon Pavilion.
Old ways came back to haunt the Gaels (8-9, 3-3 WCC) in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. A Shannon Mauldin 3-pointer 74 seconds after tipoff gave Saint Mary’s a 3-2 lead – one that would hold for nearly the entire game until the 4:27 mark in the fourth quarter. During Gonzaga’s (13-4, 4-2 WCC) game-winning 16-5 run, the Gaels turned the ball over eight times with Gonzaga earning seven steals.
Devon Brookshire hit her second 3-pointer of the game to give Saint Mary’s a seven-point, 70-63 lead with 7:16 to play. That was the last field goal it would make before a five-minute dry spell. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs scored 10 straight points over the next four minutes to take a 73-70 lead and march to victory.
Saint Mary’s had five players score in double figures. It had its best performance of the season both from the 3-point arc (10 for 20, 50.0 percent) and the free-throw line (11 for 11, 100.0 percent). The Gaels proved they were the best rebounding team in the WCC, outrebounding the No. 2 team on the boards 37-33. But SMC also had 23 turnovers, breaking a streak of six games with fewer turnovers than its opponent. Gonzaga scored 26 points off the Gaels’ second-most turnovers of the season.
Stella Beck put on a first half performance for the Gaels, accounting for 18 of the team’s 44 points while shooting 6 for 8 from the field. The New Zealand native nearly eclipsed her game-high this season (19 points Thursday versus Portland) in the first half alone. The Gaels led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter. But after scoring more than 20 points in each of the first three periods, the Gaels were outscored 18-8 in the fourth. They shot 21.4 percent in the fourth and committed nine turnovers, leading to 10 of Gonzaga’s 18 points.
For Gonzaga, Jill Barta had a career-best 33 points on the afternoon and was a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line. Laura Stockton chipped in with 12 points and five assists for the Bulldogs and Kiara Kudron led her team with seven rebounds.
Saint Mary’s begins a three-game WCC road trip on Thursday at Stockton before heading to Pepperdine on Saturday. All games will be streamed live on the Gaels’ “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
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