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14th-ranked Gonzaga women not looking past Portland as showdown with BYU looms

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 11, 2019

Gonzaga guards Chandler Smith, left,  and  Laura Stockton  high-five  after the Bulldogs defeated Saint Mary’s on Jan. 3  in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guards Chandler Smith, left, and Laura Stockton high-five after the Bulldogs defeated Saint Mary’s on Jan. 3 in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

At first sight, this would be the perfect time for the Gonzaga women to look past their next opponent.

That would be the Portland Pilots, who visit the Kennel on Saturday afternoon as the only team without a win in West Coast Conference play.

Meanwhile, things couldn’t be going much better for the Zags, who are 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the WCC. They’re also ranked 14th in the nation – the highest in program history – and sit a lofty 10th in the Rating Percentage Index.

After Saturday’s game is a showdown Thursday at BYU, the only other team with a perfect WCC mark.

That makes Portland (8-7, 0-4) a perfect trap game, but coach Lisa Fortier wasn’t going there. Two days after routing Pacific, her players had been brought up to speed on the Pilots.

“We respect them,” said guard Jill Townsend, who noted that Portland is coming off narrow losses to Pacific (76-66) and Saint Mary’s (98-91).

Fortier said the Pilots “probably will play a little loose.”

Then again, so should the Zags, who got two days off this week after playing four games in eight days.

“They deserve it,” Fortier said.

Forward Julie Spencer leads Portland in scoring at 16 points per game. Guard Darian Slaga is close behind at 15.3.

“They have a bunch of players who can shoot it,” Fortier said.

GU tops the conference stat sheet in several key areas, including scoring defense (56.6 points per game), rebounding margin (plus-6.8), steals (10.3) and turnover margin (plus-3.7).

The Zags have dominated the series, winning 35 of the past 36 meetings. Last year, GU won 70-56 at Portland and 75-36 in Spokane.

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