UC Irvine women fall to Gonzaga in first round of NCAA tournament

Gonzaga guard Esther Little, left, and forward Yvonne Ejim, right, battle UC Irvine forward Nevaeh Dean.
Gonzaga guard Esther Little, left, and forward Yvonne Ejim, right, battle UC Irvine forward Nevaeh Dean for a rebound during the first half Saturday.
(Young Kwak / Associated Press)

Yvonne Ejim had 25 points and 14 rebounds and No. 4 seed Gonzaga overcame a slow start to roll past UC Irvine 75-56 in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament Saturday.

The Bulldogs (31-3) rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit and led by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter. Kayleigh Truong added 16 points and the Zags shot 62% from the field and scored 45 points in the second half.

Gonzaga will face No. 5 seed Utah or No. 12 seed South Dakota State in the second round Monday.


Juju Watkins and McKenzie Forbes each score 23 points as USC defeats Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

March 23, 2024

The Bulldogs missed their first 10 three-pointers and managed only 10 points in the first quarter, their lowest output in any quarter this season.

Brynna Maxwell, the Zags’ top outside shooter, shook off a slow start and made two threes and a long jumper to fuel a 21-2 run to end the first half and start the third quarter.

Kayleigh Truong and twin sister Kaylynne each had five assists for the Zags, who are in their seventh straight NCAA tournament and are one win away from their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2015.

It was the first time Gonzaga hosted NCAA tournament games on its home court since 2013.

Nevaeh Parkinson scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and Moulayna Johnson Sidi Baba added 15 points and 12 rebounds for UC Irvine.

The Anteaters (23-9) were in their first NCAA tournament since 1995 and raced out to a 17-6 lead. Parkinson hit back-to-back buckets during the stretch, and UC Irvine’s physical defense flustered the Zags early.

The Bulldogs mounted a 10-0 run to slow the Anteaters’ early momentum and took their first lead midway through the second quarter.


UC Irvine coach Tamara Inoue was proud of her team’s start and how the Anteaters hung with Gonzaga more than the last time they played here — a 102-38 loss in 2016, her first season on the job.

“I think we’re on a little bit of an improvement from that to this game today,” Inoue said.