Looking ahead to Saturday’s big game against BYU, Lisa Fortier didn’t want to talk about revenge.
“I’m not a revenge person, necessarily,” the Gonzaga women’s coach said after routing San Diego on Thursday night.
“But I am a competitive person, and part of me wants to right the ship a little bit,” Fortier said.
That’s probably news to the rest of the West Coast Conference, which has been left in the wake of the good ship Gonzaga.
The Zags are ranked 13th nationally in RPI and the Associated Press poll, are 23-2 overall and hold a two-game lead in the WCC with five to play.
But there’s still the matter of atoning for the two-point loss last month at BYU, a game that according to Fortier contained too many mistakes on both ends of the court.
“We didn’t defend the post well and we didn’t defend penetration well,” Fortier said. “Offensively, we went too much one-on-one and took too many ill-advised shots in transition.”
In four-plus seasons, Fortier is 69-16 in WCC games, but four of those losses have come against BYU.
Given GU’s lead in the standings, this game is like any other in mid-February. It’s another chance to get better for the postseason, which includes the WCC Tournament and the NCAAs.
The Zags got more incentive Monday, when they were ranked 14th in the NCAA’s first bracket reveal. Should they win out, it’s a good bet they would host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games on March 22-25.
“That motivated us a little bit more,” said guard Jessie Loera, who finished with 13 points against San Diego. “It keeps us wanting to reach that goal that we’ve set.”
Saturday’s game lost some luster when BYU lost three of its next five games after beating the Zags. At 19-6 overall and 10-3 in the WCC, the Cougars might need another signature win to help their chances for an at-large NCAA bid.
BYU is 39th in RPI but dropped three in a row before beating Pacific last week. The Cougars are coming off a 70-69 win Thursday at ninth-place Portland.
No matter the final score, senior point guard Laura Stockton has a chance to move into the top three in career assists at GU.
She had two more against San Diego, putting her at 435. That’s four behind Amy Simpson, who dished out 439 from 1982-86.
The top two are former All-American Courtney Vandersloot, who had 1,118 assists from 2007-11, and Shannon Mathews (600 from 2002-05).
“I think I’m in good company on that list,” Stockton said. “It also says a lot about my teammates, stepping up and making shots all the time.”
But even for Stockton, that will take a back seat to getting a win over BYU.
“We have something to prove to them,” she said.
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