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Gonzaga women to open Vancouver Showcase against defending national champion Notre Dame

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale (24) is congratulated by teammate Jessica Shepard (23) after sinking a 3-point basket to defeat Mississippi State 61-58 in the final of the women's NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 1, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (Tony Dejak / AP)

Gonzaga will face defending national champion Notre Dame in the opening game of the inaugural Vancouver Showcase at noon on Nov. 22, organizers announced Thursday.

The Bulldogs, who went 26-7 last season en route to winning the West Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles, will face the Fighting Irish for the first time since a 70-61 loss in the Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle in 2010.

The loaded eight-team field at the Vancouver Convention Centre also includes 2017 national champion South Carolina, Pac-12 power Oregon State, Drake, Rutgers, East Tennessee and Western Kentucky.

For our 🇨🇦 friends:

1️⃣ @ndwbb - Defending National Champions & HOF coach
2️⃣ @ZagWBB - Defending @WCChoops champs
3️⃣ @RutgersWBB 20-wins last season & HOF coach
4️⃣ @DrakeWBB - Defending @ValleyHoops champs

— Vancouver Showcase (@VanShowcase) August 16, 2018

“The Vancouver Showcase has some of the best teams in the country,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said. “Our team is going to be challenged and we are going to make sure they are up for it.”

Last year, Notre Dame beat Texas A&M and Oregon in the Spokane Regional to reach to Final Four.

In addition to boasting the last two national champions, the tournament features six teams that competed in this past season’s NCAA Tournament and three coaches that are a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Notre Dame’s Muffett McGraw, Rutgers Vivian Stringer and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, inducted as a player).

Semifinals are set for Nov. 23 and the title game on Nov. 24.

Friday’s semifinals will be played at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday’s evening session featuring the championship/third place games will tip at 5 p.m.