Zags topple the Trees
It was a signature win with everyone’s hand on it. Unranked Gonzaga’s 79-73 takedown of No. 8 Stanford on Dec. 2 was the product of grit inside, laser-like outside shooting and calm down the stretch as a sellout crowd at the Kennel roared its approval. “I’m just really proud of this team,” coach Lisa Fortier said.
Shoot, that was fun
With the loss of Jill Barta and Emma Stach, perhaps the Zags’ biggest concern coming into the season was 3-point shooting. No worries: junior Katie Campbell was among the national leaders all year long, finishing 55-for-120, or 45.8 percent. Sophomore Jill Townsend wasn’t far behind at 42.9 percent.
Zags are winning big
Yes, the Zags are that dominant. Even in a year when the West Coast Conference ranked seventh overall (out of 32 leagues), GU won 10 of its 18 games by 20 points or more.
Rested and ready
How’s this for depth? Eight Zags average at least 20 minutes of playing time, but none has more than the 28.2 logged by Chandler Smith. Interestingly, backups Jesse Loera (23.1 minutes per game) and Jill Townsend (21.5 mpg) average more than some of the starters.
A full Kennel
On Senior Day, players gave a big thanks to the crowd, and why not? Gonzaga led the nation this year in attendance capacity. This season, the Bulldogs have averaged 5,608 fans per game at the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center, which equals 93.47 percent.
Stockton can dish it
Just like her father, John, senior Laura Stockton knows how to make her teammates look better. With a seven-assist performance at Santa Clara on Feb. 21, Stockton moved into third place in career assists at GU. She now has 461, trailing only Courtney Vandersloot (1,118) and Shannon Mathews (600).
Rice has power in the paint
Senior Zykera Rice recently recalled being a freshman “who couldn’t run a play, but now they run plays for me.” The Zags’ go-to player down low, Rice is shooting 52 percent from the field, and won back-to-back WCC Player of the Week honors earlier this year. She also leads GU in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounds (5.9 rpg).
Just win, baby
The Zags’ final regular-season record of 27-3 works out to 90 percent, the fifth-best mark in the nation behind perennial powers Baylor, UConn, Louisville and Mississippi State. They’ve also held steady between 12th and 15th in the all-important Rating Percentage Index, or RPI.
For starters, that was a great one
For sheer wins, this was the best nonconference season in Gonzaga history. The Zags went 11-1, beating No. 8 Stanford and losing only to top-ranked Notre Dame. They didn’t stop there, going 16-1 until falling at BYU on Jan. 16.
Locked down and loaded
It’s trite but true: Defense wins championships. The Zags are only second in offense in WCC games, but in scoring defense, their 58.1 points given up is five points per game better than No. 2 BYU. GU also leads the league in field goal percentage defense (at 37.5 percent) and defensive rebounding percentage.
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