STANFORD, Calif. -- Lexie Hull was unable to play against Gonzaga last year, making a game against her hometown team this season even more special.
Hull scored eight points and grabbed a big rebound in the final 3 minutes and No. 3 Stanford beat Gonzaga 76-70 in overtime Sunday night.
After shooting under 38 percent in the first half, including a 2 of 14 effort from 3-point range, Stanford started looking to get to the basket in the second half and the adjustment paid off.
“We know that sometimes the offense won’t be there, so you focus on defense,” Hull said. “You have to stay positive and stick together.”
Hull finished with 20 points and eight rebounds to help the Cardinal (4-0) avenge a 79-73 road loss to the Bulldogs (2-1) last December.
Kiana Williams scored 20 of her 22 points after halftime. Haley Jones added 11.
“That was a huge learning experience for us, especially for the freshmen,” Williams said. “Against Gonzaga, you have to lock in. For the freshmen getting this type of game was huge.”
Jill Townsend scored 18 points before fouling out in overtime to lead the Bulldogs. Kayleigh Truong and Melody Kempton each added 12 and Jessie Loera had 10.
“We’re disappointed,” Bulldogs coach Lisa Fortier said. “We think we’re deep and Stanford has player after player they can bring in. We didn’t defend as well as we needed down the stretch
Hull sank a pair of free throws with 3 minutes to play, putting Stanford ahead to stay at 65-64. She then came up with an offensive rebound following a missed free throw and went inside for another basket.
Seconds later, she recorded a steal and went the distance for a layup, giving Stanford a 69-64 edge.
“Lexie made some big shots, some big free throws and played great defense,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Gonzaga was aggressive and extremely physical and we had to battle through some turnovers.”
While Stanford won a first-round NCAA Tournament game at home against Gonzaga in 2018, the Zags also stole a 68-63 victory at Maples Pavilion on Nov. 18, 2016.
Townsend tied it at 60 with 48 seconds remaining in regulation, hitting a big 3-pointer and Stanford missed a shot at the other end.
“I just had to step up with a lot of confidence to hit that shot,” Townsend said. “We got big shots at the right moments to put ourselves in position.”
Loera made a pair of free throws to put Gonzaga ahead with 17 seconds left, but Williams responded with a driving layup 9 seconds later to force overtime.
Stanford began playing Gonzaga in 2009 and have played 11 times. “Not a lot of teams want to come to Spokane,” Zags coach Lisa Fortier said. “It’s a very valuable experience for us to play Stanford. It’s an opportunity to test each other early. We both have gritty, feisty players. We rely on a game like this, which is playoff-like, tournament-like.” The Cardinal improved to 9-2 in the series and 36-4 facing the WCC over the past 20 years.
Gonzaga: The Zags faced their first ranked opponent of the season. They have never won two in a row against Stanford, which beat the Zags 82-68 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March 2018 at Maples Pavilion. The Bulldogs are 19-67 overall against Pac-12 opponents, 6-8 under coach Lisa Fortier.
Stanford: The Cardinal faced a tough, physical team that maintained that pace throughout for the first time and Stanford needed to make a few adjustments. “We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I thought we settled for a lot of long 3’s. We needed to pound it inside.”
Gonzaga: Hosts Eastern Washington on Friday night.
Stanford: Hosts Buffalo on Sunday.
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