California proved fertile ground for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, which now shifts its attention to more familiar territory.
The Bulldogs will open their home schedule at 6 Friday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center against the Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) of the Big Ten Conference. A few tickets were still available as of Thursday, but the 6,000-seat arena should be loud for the Bulldogs, who were 28-6 last year.
Gonzaga started its season with two wins in the Golden State, struggling during the first half of a 60-53 decision at UC Riverside and finding its rhythm during a 63-52 outcome at USC.
Sophomore guard Keani Albanez led Gonzaga in California, coming off the bench to score 17 points in both games.
The Badgers opened their season with a 74-56 win over Milwaukee, guided by fourth-year guard Taylor Wurtz’s 16 points.
“She can shoot it, she can drive it and she’s good around the basket,” GU coach Kelly Graves said of Wurtz. “There’s not much she can’t do.”
The Badgers are coached by former Stanford player Bobbie Kelsey, in her second season.
“We would not have scheduled (Gonzaga) had they had who they had a couple of years ago,” Kelsey said at a news conference on Monday. “That’s not to say they’re not a great team. They’re still very highly regarded with their past history of getting to the NCAA tournament.”
Graves took the comment in stride, saying any team should want to play at Gonzaga because of its venue and environment. GU will play at Wisconsin next season.
Monmouth, of West Long Branch, N.J., will take on the Bulldogs at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Hawks (0-1) haven’t played in the Pacific time zone since 1995.
Monmouth and Wisconsin are also using their trip to the Northwest as a chance to play at Washington State, on opposite days from the Gonzaga games.
Galdeira sets mark
Guard Lia Galdeira set a Washington State freshman single-game record by scoring 33 points last Saturday during the Cougars’ season opener against Minnesota.
The young Hawaiian followed that up with 12 points against South Dakota State.
The Cougars lost both games in overtime, including a double-OT loss to Minnesota.
Also, WSU coach June Daugherty announced that 6-foot-2 forward Ivana Kmetovska of Skopje, Macedonia, signed a national letter of intent to join the Cougars in 2013-14.
The Eastern Washington Eagles (0-2), after losing their first road game of the season Thursday night at Cal State Northridge, return home Sunday to meet Portland. … Portland will begin its area swing tonight as the Idaho Vandals’ home opener. The Vandals (0-2) started three freshmen and one sophomore in their second game, at Colorado. … Whitworth begins its season tonight with the first of two games at the Southwestern Tip-Off Tournament in Georgetown, Texas. The Pirates start with Texas Lutheran. … Community Colleges of Spokane opens its season tonight with the first of three games at the Everett Classic. … North Idaho is off to a 4-0 start, winning by an average of 17 points per game.