Gonzaga’s women’s basketball team has entered the take-care-of-business part of its schedule.
The Bulldogs (16-5, 6-1 West Coast Conference), tied for first place with Saint Mary’s, are in the midst of five consecutive games against teams in the bottom half of the standings.
GU meets Loyola Marymount (8-12, 2-5) at 6 tonight in its first game at McCarthey Athletic Center in two weeks. Pepperdine (4-14, 1-6), which lost at home to Gonzaga 80-46 last Thursday, visits at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“My job as coach is to keep them focused on what’s next, and LMU is the only thing we’re talking about,” GU’s Kelly Graves said.
LMU has lost seven of its last nine games. The Lions haven’t defeated GU since the 2007-08 season and haven’t won in Spokane since 2001-02.
Senior forward Alex Cowling (15.9 ppg) leads LMU. Cowling, with 2,045 career points, needs 121 to pass former Bulldog Heather Bowman as the WCC’s all-time leading scorer. Cowling scored 23 points at GU last season. Returning point guard Hazel Ramirez scored 24.
“(The Lions) play really hard and they have two marquee players,” Graves said.
First-year Lions assistant coach Jackie Stiles is the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader with 3,393 points. Stiles led Missouri State to the Final Four in 2001, scoring 41 points against Duke at the Arena and defeating Washington, coached by current Washington State coach June Daugherty, in the Elite Eight.
Saturday’s rival, Pepperdine, has dropped nine of its last 10 games. The Waves’ last win at GU was six years ago.