Gonzaga women's coach Kelly Graves is looking for a "big win" that will help get his budding program national exposure and respect. His team had that opportunity Tuesday night as the nationally ranked Oregon Ducks visited the Kennel. Despite a valiant effort by the Bulldogs, Oregon prevailed, 73-57, and Graves must still search for that win.
The final score is misleading in summarizing the effort of Gonzaga. The Zags began the game with purpose, proving to the Ducks that it wasn't going to be an easy night. Both teams matched basket for basket, rebound for rebound and neither team enjoyed a lead higher than three points. For the entire game there were 12 lead changes and 9 times the game was tied. Gonzaga created a frustrating number of unforced turnovers, but Oregon was unable to capitalize because of the Bulldogs' sticky defense. Neither team scored much in the first half, because both experienced a long scoring draught midway through the half. With the brilliant handling of Gonzaga freshman Rachel Kane and the interior presence of Anne Bailey, who scored 10 points and gathered 6 rebounds in the half, the Zags found themselves tied with the 24th ranked team in the country, 28-28.
Gonzaga began the second half much like the first, remaining nearly even with the Ducks on the score board. After nearly five minutes of nip and tuck basketball, Oregon finally pulled away. A Duck scored a bucket and was fouled, missed the free-throw, but the Ducks recovered the rebound. The extra opportunity for Oregon proved deadly for the Bulldogs, as another Oregon athlete scored and collected the foul. This time Oregon sank its free-throw. This gave Oregon its biggest lead of the game at five, and they never looked back. After ignoring their advantage in the post for the majority of the first half, Oregon finally tapped its interior talent. Andrea Bills, Cathrine Kraayeveld, and Carolyn Ganes proved too big for Gonzaga and inflicted the damage. Oregon had twelve more points from inside the paint than Gonzaga. The Ducks' bench also out-scored the Zags by 15. However, Gonzaga did receive key defensive minutes from reserves Katy Ridenour, Stephanie Hawk, and Shannon Mathews.
Three Bulldogs scored in double-figures: Ashley Burke with a team-high 16, Ashley Anderson tallied 11 points, and Bailey narrowly missed the double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Gonzaga's next game will be on Nov. 28 at 7 pm when they face the UW Huskies in the Seattle Times Classic.