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The Lady Zags started fast and furious to grab the lead and momentum in Friday evening's contest against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Led by Ashley Anderson's career-tying 20 points and a balanced scoring attack from forward Ashley Burke to guard Shannon Mathews.
Rae Jewell and Anne Bailey would continue the inside-outside assault to eventually rout the foe from Reno. It was perhaps Gonzaga's best overall effort of this young season and a solid win over a good WAC team.
The following day, Gonzaga's men would renew their Battle in Seattle series, this year taking on A-10 favorite UMass. It would be closer than most expected.
In a ragged, ugly game, the men would watch UMass bolt to an early lead before going ice cold and allowing the Zags to take a 13 point lead into halftime. But after building a 17 point second half lead, Gonzaga started making ill-advised decisions and mistakes, letting the fiesty Minutemen from Amherst tie it, then even take a 2 point lead.
Either a lack of a killer instinct or the determination of UMass allowed this comeback, but whatever it was, Gonzaga did show grit and character in ratcheting up the intensity and responding to the adversity by pulling away to win comfortably by 11 in KeyArena. Adam Morrison scored 20 and grabbed 9 rebounds. Ronny Turiaf got 19 points and 14 boards while JP Batista finished with 10 points.
The game marked the return of Erroll Knight (injured thumb), who had his jersey retired at Chief Sealth High School the day before.
A few hours down in Tempe, AZ, the ladies took on the hometeam in a tournament for the second straight weekend. And like New Mexico in The Pit, the Sun Devils in Wells Fargo Arena had too much going for them.
Stephanie Hawk had an outstanding game, scoring 19, but it wasn't enough to overcome a balanced attack from ASU. Not enough other Zags stepped up to the challenge and the first half defense was too soft to keep ASU at bay.
Gonzaga upped their defensive intensity in the final 20 minutes while upping their shooting percentage to 44% but the hole was too deep by then to crawl out of. ASU would win by 19 after leading by 26 at half.
Shannon Mathews became Gonzaga's all-time assist leader with 440 dimes. Ashley Anderson would join Mathews for 1st-team All-Tournament honors.
Mark Few's squad travels to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars on Tuesday, December 7. Kelly Graves' team goes to Missoula Friday for an evening battle against the Grizzlies.