In some ways, Gonzaga’s win at Pacific on Thursday night was the best of both worlds.
Most important, the Zags got the win, 77-65, to stay unbeaten in the West Coast Conference.
The game brought out the best from the Zags, who played a second quarter for the ages. It also served as a warning that no lead is safe, no team incapable of upsetting the No. 18 team in the country.
“Road wins are always hard-fought and always worth celebrating,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said after GU’s 13th straight win, the fourth longest in Division 1.
“But I would really love to have seen us play four full quarters of high level basketball.”
That message comes at the perfect time. On Saturday at 1 p.m., the Zags are at Saint Mary’s, a struggling squad that just dropped a one-point heartbreaker to Portland to fall to 5-11 overall and 3-7 in the WCC.
But in case the Zags (14-2, 9-0) need reminding, their last regular-season loss came almost exactly a year ago at Saint Mary’s.
That Saint Mary’s squad lost by 27 in Spokane; four weeks later the Gaels pulled the upset of the year.
That would be the Fortier’s biggest concern – that the Gaels pick up where Pacific left off – that is, draining nearly every 3-point shot they put up.
That’s what happened a year ago in Moraga, California: Saint Mary’s made 14 of 21 from long range, won the game by 10 – and ended up seventh in the final standings.
The upset doesn’t appear likely this year, although it never does. Moreover, this year’s Saint Mary’s squad shoots only 33.6% from long range and turns the ball over an average of 20 times a game.
Gonzaga did almost everything right in the teams’ first meeting, a 69-37 win at the Kennel on Jan. 2.
The Zags held Saint Mary’s to 32% percent shooting, including just 2 for 15 from long range, and owned the boards 41-23. Senior forward Jenn Wirth dominated inside, with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Gaels lost their first six WCC games, then won three straight before falling 69-68 at home to Portland on Thursday.
Three players average double figures for SMC, led by Taycee Wedin at 12.3 points per game. Wedin was the most recent WCC Player of the Week after the junior guard combined for 35 points in back-to-back wins, finishing 50% from beyond the arc.
Madeline Holland adds 11.5 points per game shooting 45.5% from the floor while freshman Finau Tonga adds 10.6 points per game.
Tonga, however, hasn’t played in a game since a 56-73 loss at San Francisco on Jan. 9.
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