The biggest remaining game of the West Coast Conference women's basketball season is Thursday at Gonzaga. The Bulldogs (10-1 WCC) can take a huge step toward wrapping up their ninth consecutive conference title by avenging last month's loss at Saint Mary's (8-2 WCC). Gonzaga has won eight consecutive games since its three-point loss at Moraga, Calif. Read story
Graves said his team needs to learn to deliver a “knockout punch.”
“We have to come out the second half in the first few minutes, by the first media (timeout), and really make a statement and we’ve yet to do that,” he said. “We’ve let teams kind of back in, never really threaten us, but that’s an area we have to continue to improve. We have to have that killer instinct, knock them out if we can.”
Graves pointed out that the deep, balanced Bulldogs didn’t have player with a double-double this season until Cheslek totaled 11 points and 11 rebounds against Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
The Gonzaga women are in the same position as the men, Graves said.
“Just like our guys I think we both have a chance on Thursday night, by beating Saint Mary’s, to take a two-game lead – in our case, with only four games left,” he said. “So obviously, that’s where you want to be, but it’s going to be a big task. … It’s an important game in lots of ways, but definitely it gives us a little cushion going in to the final couple of weeks.”
Saint Mary’s defeated BYU last week to split their season series. GU defeated BYU at home on Jan. 17.
“Now BYU has three losses, which is obviously a good thing because we have a couple of games on them, but we still have to go to Provo (on Feb. 23), so that might negate that advantage,” Graves said.
Albanez scored 17 points last Saturday against Loyola Marymount, her best performance since scoring 19 against Missouri State on Nov. 20.
Albanez, of Santa Barbara, Calif., said she received a big boost by playing in front of family and friends in Los Angeles. She also had big games, with 17 points in each, to open the season at UC Riverside and USC.
Albanez, a crowd favorite because of her hustle, said she hasn't been concerned about her decreased scoring because her main interest is having the team win.