Zykera Rice scored a game-high 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting and grabbed six rebounds as fifth-seeded Gonzaga defeated No. 12 Arkansas Little Rock 68-51 on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Corvallis, Ore.
Katie Campbell added 15 points, making 5 of 6 3-point attempts, for the Bulldogs (29-4), who scored the game’s first 16 points. Gonzaga will play either host Oregon State or Boise State in the second round Monday.
Tori Lasker led Arkansas Little Rock (21-11) with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Terrion Moore added 13 points and a team-high four assists.
The Bulldogs played without two key players, point guard Laura Stockton and top reserve Jill Townsend, who both suffered season-ending leg injuries in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
Stockton, the daughter of Gonzaga legend and Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton, averaged 8.9 points and 4.2 assists per game. Townsend was second on the team with 9.4 points per game and also averaged 4.7 rebounds.
Their absence wasn’t felt in the first quarter, as the Bulldogs raced to a 21-2 lead.
Arkansas Little Rock missed its first 13 shots and didn’t score until Ronjanae DeGray made a putback with 3:05 left in the quarter. The Trojans finished the quarter with seven turnovers and zero assists.
The Trojans did their best to rally in the second quarter, making 6 of 10 field-goal attempts to cut the deficit to as few as nine points. Campbell made a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 32-20 halftime lead.
Arkansas Little Rock again got within nine points in the third quarter, but couldn’t get any closer. Gonzaga took a 49-38 lead into the fourth, and the Trojans weren’t able to cut the deficit to single digits in the final 10 minutes.
The Bulldogs shot 46.3 percent from the field (25 of 54) while limiting the Trojans to 32.8 percent (20 of 61). Gonzaga had a 43-27 rebounding edge.
—Field Level Media