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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga women look to end regular season on a strong note against tough BYU

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 23, 2018

Gonzaga’s  Jill Barta,  LeeAnne Wirth  and Jessie Loera, left to right,  celebrate their 58-54 home win over San Diego  on Thursday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Jill Barta, LeeAnne Wirth and Jessie Loera, left to right, celebrate their 58-54 home win over San Diego on Thursday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

This week hasn’t felt much different than most weeks inside The Kennel for Emma Stach.

But the senior said she’s sure the emotions of playing her last game at Gonzaga will come full force in the regular-season finale against Brigham Young on Saturday.

“Right now it feels normal, but being on the court Saturday is when it’s going to hit,” Stach said at practice Wednesday.

Stach said that her mother flew in from Germany earlier this week to meet her on the court during pregame honors on Senior Day. Redshirt senior Emma Wolfram will also join Stach as the only other senior on the roster to be recognized.

Wolfram, who redshirted her first season at Gonzaga (2013-2014), has missed the entire year with a knee injury. Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said that Wolfram will be listed in the starting lineup and will get the chance to play against BYU for about a minute after tipoff.

“You have a lot of emotion going into Saturday – Wolfy and Stacher and what they mean to us,” Fortier said.

“And it being BYU, it’s going to be big and emotional anyways.”

Gonzaga last saw the Cougars on Feb. 3 when the Zags, powered by Jill Barta’s 34 points, downed BYU 84-70.

The Zags never trailed and they extended their lead to as much as 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Gonzaga’s dominating performance in the paint this season, led by Barta and junior forward Zykera Rice, forced the Cougars to switch to a zone defense early on.

“We are going to see some zone,” Fortier said. “They’re huge, so it’s a good use of their talent.”

BYU’s post players, all at least 6 foot, limited the Zags to 12 points in the paint earlier this season. Fortier will have the option of fighting against BYU’s bigs under the hoop or extend to the perimeter where the Zags have struggled all season.

The Bulldogs will have to contain freshman center Sara Hamson, who at 6-7 is the tallest on the roster. She’ll pose a significant threat on the defensive side if the Zags attempt to penetrate the interior.

Hamson leads the West Coast Conference and is ranked second in the NCAA for blocks per game (4.3) and total blocked shots at 104. Against GU, she accounted for all four of BYU’s blocks.

BYU relies heavily on its guards, who were not afraid to take on Gonzaga’s interior defense the last time the teams met.

Gonzaga’s biggest concern is reigning WCC Player of the Year Cassie Broadhead Devashrayee, who leads the conference with 19.8 points per game.

Stach will likely guard Devashrayee. In their first showing this season, Stach stayed on her for most of the game, holding her to 8-for-19 shooting from the field en route to 24 points.

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