Gonzaga women top Idaho 80-57

The season opener for the Vandal women against Gonzaga figured to be a tall test, and through the first five minutes Idaho hung with the Bulldogs. But a 10:47 scoring drought allowed the Zags to stretch a two-point lead into a 15-point bulge. The Vandals, trailing 32-22 at the half, cut the lead to seven with 16:43 left, but the visitors quickly regained control and cruised to an 80-57 victory.

Truth be told, neither team was setting the world on fire offensively in the game. In the first half the two teams combined to miss 66 shots from the field. In the final accounting the total climbed to 141 missed shots (including free throws). Unfortunately for Idaho the Zags had seven players ranging in height from 6-0 to 6-2 which helped the visitors to a 56-37 edge in rebounds. The Zags were not only big, they were athletic and very quick.

Vandal coach Jon Newlee summed it up pretty well after the game: "They're big and athletic and talented and physical inside," he said. "Our plan obviously is to put a body on ‘em. We missed boxouts. We can't jump with them…they go to the glass like crazy. They're a very talented team."

The Vandal coach was disappointed in the final score but not in the effort his players put forth. I "I thought our effort was really good tonight, much better than it was in the exhibition game," he said. "I thought we really came out and battled, played hard. I just told our guys we played pretty well, but we missed 13 layups that we charted on the bench. We were 10/21 from the free throw line. That's the worst a team I have coached has ever shot from the free throw line in a game. We even shot 300 extra free throws this week…but I thought we really came out and competed and played pretty well."

Shaena Kuehu and Bianca Cheever led the Vandal scoring with 15 points each followed by Yinka Olorunnife with 11, Jessica Graham with 8, and Charlotte Otero and Rachel Kloke with 4 each. Graham and Olorunnife each had 7 rebounds, Kloke had 6, Cheever and Kuehu 5 each and Otero 2. Otero also had 5 assists.

"(Gonzaga) is going to win the West Coast Conference," Newlee concluded. "That team will be in the NCAA tournament, and they will be at least in the second round if not the sweet 16. They went and lost at South Dakota State who was also a top 30 team at their place in South Dakota. It was a sold out place. We saw the film. It was a game that (Gonzaga) had well in hand before they lost it at the end. These guys and Baylor will be the best teams in the pre-season that we play. Baylor is a legitimate top 10 team. I think the Zags are a legitimate top 20 team. They don't get the respect they need because they're out here on the west coast, but that team could really play."

Next up for the Vandals will be a trip to Cheney Thursday for a 7 p.m. non-conference game against Eastern Washington.

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