By Asia Zhang
Sliding three spots in the rankings this week to No. 11, Stanford women’s basketball (6-1, 0-0 Pac-12) dropped a close one, its first loss of the season, against the No. 24 Gonzaga Bulldogs (8-1, 0-0 WCC) by a score of 73-79 this past Sunday in Spokane, Washington.
The Bulldogs started off the game hard pressing the Cardinal, outshooting the Cardinal 54 percent to 43 percent, leading by five points at the end of the first quarter. Making 4-4 free throws while the Cardinal trailed with 1-3, the Bulldogs set out to bark the Cardinal off their tree.
The Cardinal continued to be dominated through the second quarter as Gonzaga closed the half with a 13-4 run, with Stanford missing nine of its last 10 shots, going into halftime down 11 points.
Continuing this distressing streak into the third quarter, Stanford made a meager 2-12 shots from the floor as Gonzaga led 58-41. In the fourth quarter, however, Stanford pulled on the Bulldogs’ leash, putting 32 points in the bucket to Gonzaga’s 21, bringing them in range to take the lead.
As a result, Gonzaga started turning the ball over and missing shots, with junior guard DiJonai Carrington’s phenomenal field goal and subsequent free throw cutting Gonzaga’s lead to three, 65-62 with 4:15 on the clock.
Gonzaga sophomore Jill Townsend countered with a three with two minutes left, brining the Zags up 70-64. In an intense final minute with back-and-forth shots from both teams in an attempt to secure the win, Stanford challenged the Bulldogs with a field goal from Carrington (76-73), but Gonzaga senior Chandler Smith, who scored 20 total points on Sunday, put the Zags up to 76-71 with a striking 10 seconds left in the game.
Within the next second, sophomore Kiana Williams answered with a pair of three throws, cutting Gonzaga’s lead to 76-73. Ultimately, however, Zags sophomore Jenn Wirth slammed a free throw, and Chandler Smith swished a subsequent pair from the stripe to seal their 79-73 win.
This was a eye opening loss for the Cardinal, who average 87 points per game, whereas the underdogs, Gonzaga at 24th in the nation, average 65.9. Last triumphing over Stanford back in 2016, Gonzaga had lost to Stanford in the first round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. Although this was an unfortunate loss for the Cardinal, the Bulldogs had played a stunning game, leading the game for nearly 35 minutes, hitting 61.5 percent of their three pointers, 86.4 percent of their free throws and grabbing 38 rebounds. After hounding the Cards this past Sunday, the Bulldogs have definitely forced the Cardinal to paws and reexamine their game plan.
Catch the reignition of the fiery Cardinal spirit next Saturday at 12 p.m. at Maples Pavilion versus Baylor.
Contact Asia Zhang at asiaz ‘at’ stanford.edu.