The Gonzaga University Bulldogs blew the Waves out of the water in a staggering 75-44 victory on the opening night of WCC play. The visiting Pepperdine Waves were predicted by WCC coaches to place first in the league with Gonzaga coming in second. This was a critical game for the Bulldogs, giving them the opportunity to begin league play with an advantage over their most threatening competition. With balanced scoring, suffocating defense, and teamwork, Gonzaga turned the game from competitive into a schooling. The Zags led by as many as 37 points in the second half and shot 43.9% for the contest while holding the Waves to shooting a paltry 25%.
The beginning of the first half was a game of tug-o-war between teams, each answering the other basket for basket. Gonzaga held a one or two point advantage until a Pepperdine three gave them their first lead of the game, 13-12. Gonzaga went on a run following the Waves' three and at 9:30 held a 23-15 lead. There was no turning back. A jump hook by Anne Bailey and a trey from Ashley Burke made the contest a nine-point differential. Gonzaga's Rachel Kane scored a three and Katie Ridenour's steal and lay-up put GU ahead 37-19 with 4:00 remaining in the half. A Raeanna Jewell trey and three-point play got the crowd's shouts to fill the Kennel and also sent the Bulldogs into the locker room with a shocking 46-20 advantage.
Gonzaga's tenacity followed them into the second half. Ashley Anderson scored three straight buckets for the Zags and a Shannon Mathews three bolted their lead to 57-22. Gonzaga's merciless defense left the Waves high and dry. Pepperdine only managed two points in the first six minutes and broke the drought at 13:26. An astounding shot-clock buzzer-beater three by Mathews began the chants of "Up by 30;" the Zags 69, the Waves 39. Gonzaga's reserves were given the opportunity to get in on the action and Monica Uhrig's buzzer-beater turnaround was the final bucket of the contest with 2:00 left, making it a 75-44 drowning.
Four Gonzaga players scored in double-figures: Ashley Burke led the offensive charge with 17 points, Shannon Mathews and Ashley Anderson each tallied 13, and Raenna Jewell scored 10 points. Freshman Rachel Kane nearly achieved a double-double with 10 rebounds and 8 points.
Gonzaga returns to the Kennel on Saturday to face the LMU Lions at 7 p.m. All Zag fans are encouraged to attend!