Zags Fall at Stanford in NCAA First Round

Jessie Loera drives down the court on March 17 at the Maples Pavilion in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Zags lost to the Stanford Cardinal 82-68 bringing the Zags season to an end. GU photo by Ryan Snow.

March 19, 2018

Cardinal hits 11-of-22 Threes

Courtesy Gonzaga Athletics 

STANFORD, Calif. -- The Gonzaga Bulldogs never quit fighting, but fell 68-82 at Stanford on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Zags were battling the host four seed as a 13 seed, as Stanford built their lead through the first three quarters, and finished the third quarter on a 9-0 run. Jill Barta led all scorers with 21 points, hitting three threes and going six-for-six from the line. Laura Stockton scored 14, going five-of-seven from the field. Jessie Loera scored 12 points, all in the first half, and added two assists to Stockton's four. Barta led the Zags with four rebounds, an area the Cardinal led 42-27. Stanford shot the ball well, 51 percent from the field, and hit 11 threes in 22 attempts. GU shot solid as well, 41 percent, hitting five threes.

Barta opened the game with a three from the corner on the first possession, giving GU a 3-0 lead and becoming the seventh Zag in program history with 1600+ points. GU forced three early Stanford turnovers and led 5-2 early with Barta scoring a scoop. The Zags hit a three-plus minute scoreless streak but a follow by Jenn Wirth kept GU ahead 7-5. Three Cardinal threes put them ahead 14-9 with four minutes left in the first quarter. Loera and Emma Stach hit late threes for the Zags in the quarter as they trailed 22-18 after one. 

Stanford shot 53 percent in the quarter with three threes while GU shot 40 percent with two threes. Jenn Wirth led GU with six points and the Cardinal scored 10 points in the paint.

Barta stepped through a triple team to get fouled and get GU on the board in the second, as Stanford led 24-20. An 8-0 run from Stanford early in the quarter saw them go ahead 32-20, forcing a GU timeout at the 6:36 mark. Loera broke the run with a pretty reverse layup out of the timeout. Loera kept rolling with a jumper and pause and go move to reach 10 points, as GU cut the lead to 36-26 with four minutes left. Barta scored off an inbounds roll to the basket late in the half to break double-figures with 11 points and Chandler Smith hit a jumper right before half as Stanford led 47-36 at half. Loera led with 12 points, going five-for-five from the field, and Barta scored 11. Stanford shot 50 percent from the field and GU shot 43 percent, but the Cardinal made six threes. Stanford led on the glass, 24 rebounds to 13, with 12 offensive boards. Stanford also blocked five shots and had 24 points in the paint, while GU had 12. The Zags were eight-for-eight from the line.

Zykera Rice got on the board to open the half and the lead was under 10 briefly, before Stanford hit another three. After some back and forth baskets, Barta stepped through another double team and free throws cut the lead to 10, 54-44, with six minutes left in the quarter. Stockton turned a steal into a foul shot, and free throws from Barta cut the lead to eight, 56-48. Stanford came back with another three. The Bulldogs hit a four-plus minute scoreless streak and another Cardinal three made it 62-48. One more three before the quarter end saw Stanford lead 65-48, their largest lead to that point thanks to a 9-0 run. Barta finished the quarter with 15 points and GU only allowed six Cardinal points in the paint in the quarter.

Stockton started the fourth with a jumper to kill the run. The Cardinal maintained their 17-point lead through the first four minutes. Barta hit her second three of the quarter to cut the lead down to 14, 70-56, with 5:30 left. The Zags held Stanford scoreless for over two minutes, but the Cardinal's 11th three broke that drought. Stach answered that three to keep the lead at 14, 75-61, with three minutes left. Stanford made enough free throws to ice the game, winning 82-68.

"Stanford was too tough for us to stop on the glass today," Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. "Unfortunately that was a big key for us, and our players played hard, they always do. We were gritty. We fought till the end."

The Zags attacked to get to the foul line, hitting 17-of-19 attempts, and forced 18 turnovers. The Cardinal had 17 offensive rebounds for 15 second-chance points. The Zags recorded 10 steals but the larger Cardinal blocked eight shots.

The Zags say goodbye to seniors Emma Stach and Emma Wolfram.

"I am super grateful that I got the opportunity to play here, you know, to play in the NCAA Tournament," Stach said. "Not everyone gets to do that."

The game ended the season for GU (27-6), making their 10th trip in 12 years to the NCAA Tournament, after sweeping the West Coast Conference Regular-Season and Tournament Championships for the second-straight year with a conference-record 17 wins.