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Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier leaves bench in fourth quarter due to family medical emergency

UPDATED: Tue., March 12, 2019, 8:22 p.m.

Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Lisa Fortier reacts during the second half of a Tuesday’s WCC women's final basketball game against the BYU Cougars (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Lisa Fortier reacts during the second half of a Tuesday’s WCC women's final basketball game against the BYU Cougars (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier and her husband Craig, an assistant coach, left the bench during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s WCC Tournament championship game because of family medical emergency.

Athletic director Mike Roth pulled the coaches out of a timeout to inform them of the situation. Craig returned to the bench a few minutes later, but Roth said a car was waiting outside the Orleans Arena to take Lisa to a nearby hospital to be with a family member.

“Lisa wasn’t aware (of the situation), but once we found out we made the decision not to go beyond that other than I talked to Craig at halftime,” Roth said. “But I kept in touch with Lisa’s mom throughout the process. Then we got the phone call that circumstances had changed.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation but it does remind us that there are a lot bigger things than playing a basketball game.”

It’s been an emotional few days for the Zags, who lost Laura Stockton and Jill Townsend to injuries in Monday’s semifinal victory over Saint Mary’s.

BYU defeated Gonzaga 82-68 to win the title and clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Zags are expected to receive an at-large berth.

Gonzaga did not specify the family member involved or provide further details. But in his postgame remarks, Judkins – who until being met by Craig Fortier in the traditional handshake line was not aware that Lisa had left the building – revealed it was her brother.

“I just heard about her brother and I didn’t know that in the game, but Lisa is one of the best coaches in the country,” Cougars coach Jeff Judkins said. “She runs the team and I hope that her brother’s alright and their family’s alright.”

GU players and athletic department staff fought back emotions dealing with Tuesday’s situation.

“With everything happening outside basketball it shows you how basketball is really just a game,” Gonzaga forward Zykera Rice said. “And that there are things way more important than this game and probably any other game we’ll probably play.”

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