If the Santa Clara women are going to move up the West Coast Conference standings, they’re going to have to jump a little higher – especially Thursday night against Gonzaga.
GU travels to the Bay Area this weekend on a nine-game winning streak built largely on depth, defense and utter dominance on the boards: plus-14.5 to rank 10th in Division I.
After last week’s 75-43 demolition of Portland, Zags coach Lisa Fortier tried to put herself in an opposing coach’s sneakers.
“I’ve been in that position and I try to think of what can we do to offset that,” Fortier said. “But anything that’s problematic for the other team … that’s a good thing for us.”
Santa Clara (7-4, 3-2) isn’t bad on the boards – the Broncos are plus-4 for the season after a road sweep of Saint Mary’s and Pacific. But starting forwards Merle Wiehl and Ashlyn Herlihy, both 6-foot-1, are giving up 2 inches and a lot of agility and range to Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth of GU.
Together, the Wirths are averaging 15.3 boards a game, while Jill Townsend and Melody Kempton add another combined 10.
The 20th-ranked Zags are also shooting 44.8% from the field and holding opponents to an average of 56 points – no wonder, then, that they’re 10-2 overall and 5-0 in the WCC.
They’re also on a nine-game winning streak heading into Thursday’s 6 p.m. game at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California.
Because of COVID-19 regulations in Santa Clara County, all of SCU’s home contests are played in less-restrictive Santa Cruz County.
SCU’s Lindsey VanAllen, a 5-9 junior, averages 13.2 points per game and is coming off a career-high 25 points last weekend at Pacific.
Gonzaga has won 26 of the past 28 meetings, losing twice to the Broncos’ during GU’s injury-riddled 2015-16 season.
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