Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves’ Twitter account blew up with congratulatory re-tweets for his program winning its 10th consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season title.The No. 22 Zags clinched the honor outright by defeating Saint Mary’s, 75-65, on Thursday at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Senior G Haiden Palmer scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the opening half. Junior G Keani Albanez added 14 points while senior PG Jazmine Redmon had 10 points, six assists and zero turnovers in 30 minutes of play.
Here are highlights from the game:
Actually, GU solidified the WCC title on defense. The Zags (25-4, 15-2) lead the conference in scoring defense, allowing WCC opponents an averaged 54.7 points. Gonzaga held its opponents to 51 points or fewer 13 times overall this season.
GU will be the No. 1 seed in the WCC tournament in Las Vegas next week. But first it hosts Senior Day against Pacific on Saturday at 2pm. The Zags will honor Palmer, Redmon and C Stephanie Golden after the regular-season finale.
“We are so blessed to have great seniors, especially senior guards,” Graves told reporters after the SMC win. “Haiden and Jaz are just terrific. Those two kids – and Stephanie are the heart and soul of our team. They are the last link to our Elite Eight team and they show the young kids the way. They really have been great teachers.”
Here’s a video made in October 2013 of the seniors discussing their final season:
Also in the Inland Empire, Eastern Washington clinched a berth to the Big Sky tournament behind a gritty 67-61 win at Reese Court against Northern Colorado to sweep the regular-season series. Only the top seven teams in league standings advance to the tournament played March 13-15 and hosted by the regular-season champion.
Senior G Aubrey Ashenfelter led EWU on Thursday with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 6-of-6 scoring from the foul line. She also had four rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the win.
“I think we have finally all figured each other out,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller told the team’s website. “We’ve gotten progressively better defensively as the year has gone on. I think we’ve learned to play to each other’s strengths, and we’ve shot the ball pretty well.”
The Eagles (15-11, 11-6 Big Sky) have won seven of their past eight games. EWU closes the regular-season against league-leading North Dakota (19-8, 14-4) on Saturday at 2pm. A ceremony for senior C Laura Hughes and Ashenfelter will be held prior to the game.
Here are some highlights from Thursday’s win: