For the fourth time in five seasons, the Gonzaga women’s basketball team will open the West Coast Conference schedule on the road.
But at least it will be warm.
The 18-game schedule, announced Wednesday, has the Zags in Los Angeles in the final weekend of the year at Loyola Marymount on Dec. 28 and Pepperdine on Dec. 30.
The defending regular-season champs will return to the McCarthey Athletic Center for three straight games – two of them against the only WCC teams that beat them last year.
Saint Mary’s visits the Kennel on Jan. 2, followed by Pacific on Jan. 4 and Portland on Jan. 9.
The Zags were on a program-best 21-game winning streak last February when the hot-handed Gaels beat them 70-60.
GU didn’t lose again until the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas, when Portland rallied from a 20-point deficit to win 70-69 and rekindle a rivalry that had been dormant for more than a decade.
The WCC hasn’t announced when it will release its preseason rankings, but GU and Portland, along with BYU, are expected to be at the top.
Gonzaga finished 17-1 in the WCC and 28-3 overall, but missed out on a chance to host NCAA Tournament games when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The Zags will travel to Santa Clara (Jan. 14) and San Francisco (Jan. 16) before returning home to close the first half of conference play against San Diego on Jan. 21 and BYU on Jan. 23.
Gonzaga opens the second half of conference play with three consecutive road contests – at Pacific on Jan. 28, Saint Mary’s on Jan. 30 and Portland on Feb. 6.
The Bulldogs will return to the Kennel to host San Francisco on Feb. 11 and Santa Clara on Feb. 13 before a road swing at BYU and San Diego.
Gonzaga will close the regular season at home against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on Feb. 25 and 27, respectively.
The WCC Tournament is scheduled for March 4-9 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga is still finalizing its nonconference schedule, but the Zags are expected to play in a holiday tournament prior to the opening of the WCC slate.
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