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With Finals Week looming, Gonzaga's women knew that they'd better have some fun while they can with road games in hostile territory in Missoula to face the Grizzles and in Boise to face the Broncos.
Senior point Shannon Mathews starred against Montana, especially late when the floor leader hit two clutch treys to help put the Griz to bed. Another senior, Rae Jewell, came off the bench late and also nailed 3-pointers.
The result was a game that saw the Zags pull away for a 6 point lead, after leading by only 1 at halftime, for a 57-51 victory.
The inside games of Ashley Burke, Ashley Anderson and Stephanie Hawk were not spectacular on offense but solid enough to outrebound the Griz 45-36 and score just enough to keep the ladies from Montana off-balance.
24 hours later Gonzaga's men hosted a struggling St. Louis team and won handily in wire-to-wire fashion, 75-45.
Adam Morrison, Erroll Knight, Derek Raivio, Sean Mallon and JP Batista led the way on offense while the entire team played effective defense in limiting the Billikens to just 31% shooting. The Zags would get into a decent rhythm and finish with 52% shooting.
With Ronny Turiaf at 60% with a sprained ankle, the senior leader only attempted two shots, instead concentrating on passing to fellow bigs near the basket or open guards outside. Turiaf showed nice poise and leadership skills for his young teammates.
Knight had a solid game, his best of his injury-shortened year thus far, with 12 points and energized defense, while Derek Raivio popped 3-4 three-pointers and helped Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes run the offense. Adam was high scorer with 20.
Less than 24 hours later and Kelly Graves' squad was in Boise doing battle with the Boise State Broncos, the Zags' second road game in 40 hours.
Unlike the game at Montana, Gonzaga's inside presence ruled the day, particularly veteran Ashley Burke who had a killer game of 20 points with numerous rebounds.
But defense would prove to be the difference as Gonzaga held Boise State to a paltry 28% from the field. The only way the Broncos could keep it close was to crash the offensive boards for second chances and fouls.
The ladies from Spokane countered, though, with 48% shooting and an outstanding effort from Anne Bailey, the combo forward from Snohomish. Bailey came off the bench in this contest and delivered the ultimate knockout punch to the home team.
Tied at 59, Shannon Mathews' shot missed the mark with time ticking down. Anne Bailey grabbed the rebound and aced the putback jumper with just over 2 seconds remaining, leaving no time for the Broncos to counter.
The women won a thriller by 2, 61-59, to go 6-2 heading back to McCarthey Athletic Center for a long series of home games.
The ladies play Idaho next at 3:00pm in McCarthey Athletic Center on December 18. The men travel to Las Vegas to play Georgia Tech at 9:30pm on December 18.
GU Nation would like to encourage Zag fans to go see the women live in action then catch the men on ESPN2 later that night.