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WCC champ Gonzaga will cap regular season

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The ceremonial highlights will include honoring seniors Taelor Karr and Meghan Winters and cutting down the nets to celebrate a ninth consecutive West Coast Conference title.

But Gonzaga (24-5, 14-1 WCC) isn’t resting on its laurels for its final regular-season game, at 6 Thursday night at McCarthey Athletic Center against Portland (10-17, 5-9).

“(Portland coach) Jim (Sollars) and I are best friends,” GU coach Kelly Graves said. “We talk three to four days a week. He knows my program inside and out and I know his program inside and out, so they’re always prepared to play us.”

The Bulldogs have clinched the No. 1 seed to next week’s WCC tournament in Las Vegas. Gonzaga began its 12-game winning streak with an 82-51 win at Portland on Jan. 14, four days after a 54-51 setback at Saint Mary’s.

“I think after the loss to Saint Mary’s, we kind of came together a little bit more,” said junior guard Haiden Palmer, GU’s top scorer (12.4 ppg) and steals leader (3.0 spg). “We started playing more as a team and we got a couple of good wins right after that.”

“We finally started clicking as a team and it just fell into place,” said junior guard Jazmine Redmon, who leads GU with 3.9 assists per game.

Graves was especially proud of last Saturday’s 66-55 win at BYU. Last season, BYU thumped GU 70-40 at Provo, Utah.

“We’ve lost one road game all year,” Graves said. “Usually with a young team and an inexperienced team, if you have struggles it’s on the road. But we’ve been very consistent and it’s really started at the defensive end.”

Depending on its WCC tournament outcome and the NCAA tournament draw, GU may return home when the school hosts first- and second-round games in three weeks.