The COVID-19 pandemic has struck the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, wiping out Thursday night’s game against San Francisco and the much-anticipated jersey retirement for GU legend Courtney Vandersloot.
Also postponed is Saturday’s game at Loyola Marymount after the Lions announced earlier on Monday that they have COVID issues.
The decision wipes out the first week of West Coast Conference play for the 9-3 Zags, who have won 16 of the last 17 regular-season titles.
The news broke Monday afternoon after the team returned from a few days off following Tuesday night’s win at Eastern Washington.
Shortly after LMU called to postpone, the Zags processed their COVID-19 test results and “worked through our numbers,” Coach Lisa Fortier said Monday.
Fortier said she couldn’t reveal which players – or how many – had tested positive. However, she said the Zags currently do not meet the WCC’s requirement of at least eight healthy players.
“Obviously we’re trying to keep our team as healthy as possible,” Fortier said.
GU has 15 players on its roster. However, freshmen Calli Stokes and Payton Muma are redshirting this season and junior Kylee Griffen has taken a medical retirement but is still on the roster.
That leaves 12 active players, which means that at least five are out due to COVID protocols.
Gonzaga issued a short press release on Monday afternoon. It stated that the USF game “will not be played as scheduled due to COVID-19 related protocol within GU’s program.”
It continued: “Further, as released earlier today by Loyola Marymount, Saturday’s women’s basketball game at LMU is also postponed due to COVID.”
The release also stated that GU will be working on rescheduling the jersey ceremony for Vandersloot at a later date.
“It’s frustrating,” Fortier said. “We wanted to play on Thursday because it’s the WCC opener, but also for Courtney.”
“I was on the phone with her and she completely understands,” Fortier said. “She completely understands.”
“It would have been unfair to have this without a full team and a full crowd,” Fortier added.
Retiring Vandersloot’s No. 21 jersey has been in the works for some time; in fact, no one has worn the number since she graduated in 2011.
“It’s definitely a priority for us,” GU Athletic Director Chris Standiford told The Spokesman-Review in October.
Vandersloot is easily the most decorated player in program history.
In her senior year, Vandersloot, a three-time WCC Player of the Year, was named to the Associated Press All-America Team second team and was named the Nancy Lieberman Award winner as the top point guard in the nation.
This is the first time this season the women’s team has had to postpone games. Last year, the Zags didn’t play their season opener when Oklahoma withdrew from a Thanksgiving tournament because of COVID protocols.
GU also missed one WCC game last season because of COVID issues at San Diego. The Zags finished 16-1 in conference play and went on to win the conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Single-game ticket purchasers may request a refund from the Gonzaga Athletics Ticket Office.
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