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Jill Barta, Gonzaga women ready for the limelight in NCAA Tournament

UPDATED: Fri., March 17, 2017, 9:22 p.m.

Gonzaga forward Jill Barta (13), shown in a 2017 WCC Tournament game, led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 10 rebounds in their season-opening loss to Colorado State on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Jill Barta (13), shown in a 2017 WCC Tournament game, led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 10 rebounds in their season-opening loss to Colorado State on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

SEATTLE – Jill Barta had heard it all week: The NCAA Tournament is a different animal.

And Barta is about to be thrown into the fray.

She can’t wait.

Flanked by seniors Elle Tinkle and Kiara Kudron at Friday’s press conference, Barta said she’s drawn wisdom from both going into Saturday’s first-round game against Oklahoma.

Two years ago, as the Bulldogs celebrated two NCAA wins at Oregon State, Barta was a redshirt freshman while Kudron was taking a redshirt year as a junior.

Tinkle was on the court, celebrating one of the biggest moments of her college career. Current GU players Emma Wolfram and Emma Stach were there, too.

“Talking to Elle and talking to some of the girls that have experienced it, it is just something that you don’t forget, don’t take it for granted, and we are ready,” Barta said.

Facing an Oklahoma program that’s appearing in its 18th straight NCAA Tournament, the Zags have a solid resume. GU is playing in its eight tournament in nine years, and is 10-8 overall, with four trips to the Sweet 16.

“There is nothing like these moments and the opportunity to play against the top teams in the country,” Tinkle said.

“March brings the best out of people. We were talking about it yesterday, in those moments when we played a couple of years ago it seemed like we had so many players rise to the occasion just because that is when it is ultra-competitive like it is.”