Time will tell whether Calvin Fortier follows his parents into coaching, but he’s off to a good start.
Following the Gonzaga women’s remarkable comeback Monday against South Dakota, 8-year-old Calvin offered a spot-on instant analysis.
“We made a basket and then the other team got it and they kept missing and we kept making more 3s,” he said.
Or as Calvin’s mom, head coach Lisa Fortier, put it, “We needed some stops and run some good offense.”
The sequence occurred often enough in the second half to give the Zags a 54-50 win over the Coyotes in the final game of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“It was exciting,” Calvin said.
That it was. Stuck in an 18-point hole, the Zags gradually climbed out – one stop and one bucket at a time.
“I’m just really happy with the way that our team fought back,” Lisa Fortier said.
It was more than that, according to senior forward Jill Townsend.
“We learned a lot about our team, our chemistry, the fight that each one of us has,” said Townsend, who sparked the rally with 20 points and some clutch foul shots.
“I think we’re pretty happy leaving South Dakota knowing that,” Townsend said.
The Zags will be back in six days for a game at South Dakota State, sitting at 1-1 instead of becoming the first GU team since 1998 to start the season 0-2.
Coming off a narrow loss to top-ranked South Carolina the day before, Gonzaga got off to an awful start against South Dakota.
The Zags missed 11 of their first 13 shots, turned the ball over four times in the first five minutes as South Dakota took leads of 9-4, 23-9 and finally 27-9 with 5½ minutes left in the second quarter.
The Zags were also struggling on the glass and in the paint, and they heard about it from Fortier during a timeout.
Among other things, “she said that we are not a wimpy team but we played like one,” said point guard Kayleigh Truong.
“I do say some silly things sometimes,” Fortier acknowledged. “Our goal was for our guys to be more physical and have fewer ticky-tack fouls.”
The rally began late in the second quarter, with a 3-pointer and a long 2 from Townsend sandwiched around two free throws from freshman Lily Scanlon.
Down 28-16 at intermission, the Zags reeled off the first 6 points of the second half before falling behind by 10 with 3½ minutes left in the third quarter.
Melody Kempton scored the last 5 points of the quarter and the Zags took that momentum into the fourth with a 9-0 run that gave them the lead – for good, as it turned out.
A 3-pointer from Cierra Walker and a layup from Jenn Wirth gave GU its biggest lead, 47-40, with 4:01 to play.
South Dakota cut the lead to one on three occasions, but the Zags answered each threat by going 7-for-8 at the foul line.
Leading 51-50 with 8 second left, GU got one foul shot from Jenn Wirth and two more from Townsend to put the game away.
“This kind of showed what our team was all about,” Townsend said.
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