It’s only November, but the Gonzaga women are in Las Vegas for a potentially season-defining tournament.
And unlike the West Coast Conference championships in March, this week’s Play4Kay Showcase will be a stern test of the Bulldogs’ abilities.
“There’s not a team in the tournament that I would eagerly face,” said coach Lisa Fortier, whose Bulldogs open Thursday against a Belmont team that went 27-6 last year and reached the NCAA Tournament.
Other teams in the three-day event include Stanford, Ohio State, DePaul, Florida Gulf Coast, Memphis and Kent State.
More than anything, the Play4Kay is a measuring stick for the Bulldogs, who won’t play at McCarthey Athletic Center until Nov. 30.
“It’s good to be tested on the road,” said Fortier, who already has – twice. The Bulldogs opened with a 65-49 loss at Colorado State before beating Montana 70-55.
So far, go good, Fortier said after practice on Monday.
“We have a lot of players in new roles, but I like the way we’re pressuring people,” Fortier said. “Our press has looked good, we’re executing fairly well and getting shots that we like.”
“We have to knock them down,” Fortier said.
Indeed, the Bulldogs are shooting only 34 percent from the field (opponents are hitting at a 39 percent clip) and only 13.6 percent (6-for-44) from long range.
Forward Jill Barta has four of those. The rest of the Bulldogs are 2-for-34.
That’s a bit perplexing, because Fortier points out that in practice, “we can’t even run our (half-court) offense because we make the first shot every time.”
WSU women face another ranked team
Washington State will play its second straight game against a ranked opponent when the Cougars face No. 17 South Florida on Friday in the Gulf Coast Classic.
The Cougars (1-3) are coming off a 73-68 loss to 25th-ranked Kentucky, getting 25 points from guard Borislava Hristova.
Friday’s meeting is the first between WSU and USC. The tournament also includes defending national champion South Carolina, Rutgers, St. John’s, Western Michigan, Notre Dame, and East Tennessee State.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.