Before looking ahead to Gonzaga's game against No. 15 Pittsburgh, a moment to reflect on the Bulldogs' historic 78-53 win over No. 20 Xavier for their first win in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
1, Courtney Vandersloot: Re-enforced the notion the savvy playmaker is one of the best in the country.
2, Vivian Frieson: A tremendous athlete and consumate team player.
3, Team: Five beats one every time. Ta'Shia Phillips was great - as a friend used to say, "All that and a bag of chips" - but as a unit, Gonzaga was spectacular. No matter what happens against Pittsburgh, the vibe around this team revives memories of the 1999 GU men's team, emphasis on team. The way a wide variety of players stepped up to hit shots, grab a rebound, make a stop, it was a total team effort by all 10 players.
4, Heather Bowman: The junior from Lewis and Clark has been a remarkable offensive force since she stepped on campus and an average defender. Although the 6-6 Phillips got hers (26 points, 18 rebounds), Bowman did a great defensive job. The Musketeers seemed so intent on getting her the ball, they forgot about the rest of their offense until they were down 13. Although Bowman had help, it's not as if the Zags could ignore the other players - Frieson had burly 6-foot April Phillips (no relation) to contend with. Bowman really made T-Phillips work to get what she got and that made all the difference in the world. Her best game in a career of great games.
Keep reading for links and comments. And we'll be back this evening after the afternoon press conferences for tomorrow night's second round game.
Our game story.
The Cincinnati Enquirer game story.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story.
The Missoulian game story.
Additional comments from the Gonzaga-Xavier game:
Vandersloot: I think what really helped us is that we got up and down the floor and we get points in transition. But at the same time, once they stopped us we know that we have a lot of weapons out there on teh floor and so it's tough to stop everyone.... We had a lot of people knock down big shots.
X coach Kevin McGuff: They played at a great pace. They were really aggressive and they moved the ball very well. I will take some of the credit for what we did not do because our kids worked very hard in practice and I thought that I really let us down in terms of preparation. Much of that has to do with Gonzaga playing very well and partly because we did not play as well defensively.
McGuff: They did a great job mixing up their defenses and keeping us off balance. I thought that we got enough good shots but we didn't make them. It was also problematic that those missed shots led to a lot of opportunities for Gonzaga. We needed to make more shots to win, but our misses also put them in good position to score in transition.
McGuff: (When the deficit was cut to 3): I felt like we had great momentum and we were really moving the ball at that time and getting good shots. As we moved the ball more we also seemed to get more offensive rebounds. But Gonzaga hit some big shots to stop our momentum. Again, it was a combination of us breaking down and Gonzaga taking advantage and making big shots.
X guard Tudy Reed: It was pretty difficult (to get momentum). We had a slow start and we just never really buckled down on defense.
Phillips: It really doesn't matter what I do as an individual because this is a team.