The Gonzaga women will be focusing mostly on themselves Thursday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
That’s as it should be, but there’s a bit more uncertainty going into their West Coast Conference matchup against Loyola Marymount.
The question of the night: which group of Lions will show up at the Kennel: the team GU smoked by 24 last month in Los Angeles, or the squad that’s won four of its last five and recently knocked BYU out of first place?
“At LMU we did a great job in transition,” said coach Lisa Fortier, whose club is up to 78th in the Rating Percentage Index thanks to a 10-game winning streak. The Bulldogs are 10-2 in the WCC and 19-4 overall heading into this week’s home stand against LMU and second-place Saint Mary’s.
The latter game wasn’t a factor at Tuesday’s practice because it never is, Fortier said in dismissing any thought of LMU (6-6 WCC and 11-12 overall) being a trap game.
“We haven’t talked about Saint Mary’s at all, and we don’t do that anyway,” Fortier said.
At LMU we did a great job in transition, but they are playing as good as good as they’ve been playing all year,” Fortier said.
“I just hope we’re playing the same as we did down there, but also progressing,” Fortier said of GU’s 80-56 win on Jan. 12.
GU’s biggest task on Thursday is to slow down LMU forward Jackie Johnson, a physical 6-foot-2 forward who’s averaging 24.2 points over her last four games.
The Bulldogs counter with a defense that’s leading the conference. GU allows just 56 points a game, ranking 22nd in the nation.
The Bulldogs are holding opponents to 35.9 percent shooting, which ranks 26th in the nation. They’re even better in 3-point percentage defense: opponents shoot just 25.7 percent. That ranks tops in the conference in sixth in NCAA.
GU is second in the conference in rebounding margin at plus-7.6, with forwards Kiara Kudron and Jill Barta combining for an average of 13.8 boards.
At the other end of the floor, Fortier said the Zags are “just working for team shots, with a really well-run offense to work the ball around and find the open player.”