Make no mistake: This is Payback Week for the Gonzaga women.
For the first time in recent memory, the Bulldogs face back-to-back games against teams that got the better of them recently.
On Thursday, it’s a trip to San Diego, which has a three-game streak over GU that dates back to 2014. Prior to that, the Zags had won 15 straight in the series.
Two days later, the Bulldogs are home against a Pepperdine team that stunned them in the West Coast Conference opener on Dec. 29.
“I’ve been waiting for that one since I stepped off the floor,” post Emma Wolfram of the Pepperdine game.
Since a 0-2 start, GU has reeled off six straight wins and sits at 15-4 overall, and 6-2 in the conference.
That’s good enough for a first-place tie with BYU, but it also speaks to the balance in the WCC this year. For the first time since 1999, no WCC team made it to the third week of conference play with a perfect record.
And if the chips fall the wrong way for GU and BYU, as many as six teams could finish this week atop the standings at 6-4.
The Bulldogs are saying no to parity with team defense – good thing, because on Thursday night at the the Jenny Craig Pavilion, they will get a steady diet of one-on-one playmakers.
“Some of their offensive players do have an advantage over us if we go one-on-one,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said. “We’re going to be in a get-dirty-and-leave-it-on-the-court frame of mind.”
GU won’t have to worry about preseason all-WCC preseason pick Maya Hood. The senior forward suffered a season-ending knee injury last month after averaging 18 points a game.
The Toreros (9-9 overall and 3-5 in the WCC) are getting 10.4 points a game from senior guard Katherine Hamilton.
“They have a hard-working, defense-oriented team, and they really get after you with pressure,” Fortier said.
GU counters with a defense that held Santa Clara and Portland to a combined 26 for 90 from the field and just 4 for 31 from 3-point range.
After that game, the Bulldogs will return home immediately for a Saturday’s game against lowly Pepperdine. The Waves are only 5-14 overall and 3-5 in the WC, but opened the conference season with a 79-69 win over GU in Malibu, California.
That game also cost GU dearly in the Rating Percentage Index. Combined with a loss to Pacific, the Bulldogs dropped almost 70 spots.
The difference in that game was a 50-33 GU deficit on the glass.
“We’ve worked every practice on that,” guard Emma Stach said. “We’ve showed we can do better.”
During their current six-game winning streak, the Bulldogs are outrebounding opponents by almost seven per game.
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