The Gonzaga women are gaining some respect at just the right time.
Two days after wrapping up another West Coast Conference title, the Zags moved up three spots, to 18th, in the Associated Press poll announced Monday.
GU also moved to a season-best 15th Sunday in the NET rankings, the main tool for determining seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The Zags dropped to 16th on Monday, but have a strong chance to finish with a top 4 seed.
The NCAA sent a mixed message Sunday night, omitting Gonzaga from its latest reveal of the top 16 teams.
Two teams currently behind GU in the NET rankings, Arkansas and Kentucky, were included in Sunday’s reveal.
Gonzaga is 21-3 overall and finished 16-1 in the WCC regular-season standings, two games ahead of second-place BYU.
Next up for the Zags is a few days of rest ahead of the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. GU has a double bye into the semifinals and will play Monday afternoon at the Orleans Arena.
In the meantime, Gonzaga is awaiting Tuesday’s announcement of the WCC coach and player honors.
There are no clear-cut choices for the top two awards, Coach of the Year and Player of the Year.
Picked to win the conference, the Zags did just that. Fortier has won the award four times in her previous six years as head coach. Last year’s honor went to Cindy Fisher, who took San Diego from a ninth-place finish in 2018-19 to second place last year.
This year’s surprise team is San Francisco. Picked for last in preseason polls, the Dons finished third after upsetting BYU Saturday.
Fifth-year coach USF coach Molly Goodenbour has never won the award.
The Player of the Year award is also unclear. Last year it went to Gonzaga’s Jill Townsend, who ranked only 16th in the conference in scoring (12.2 ppg) but was clearly the key player in the Zags’ title run.
Townsend has slightly better numbers this season. She’s averaging 13.8 points (7th in the WCC), and her rebounding and 3-point shooting numbers are comparable to last season’s.
However, teammate Jenn Wirth might be the favorite. The senior forward is only 10th in scoring at 13.2 ppg, but she’s third in the in rebounding (8.4 rpg), and her 56.7% shooting is the best in the conference.
Wirth also had nine double-doubles this season, easily better than the other contenders.
And like Townsend last year, Wirth has done that while averaging only 25 minutes per game.
The other Player of the Year contenders appear to be Shaylee Gonzales of BYU (18.5 ppg after missing the previous year with an ACL tear); Valerie Higgins of Pacific (16.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg); Haylee Andrews of Portland (16.5 ppg and the league leader in assists and steals): and Ioanna Krimili of USF, who led the conference in scoring (18.5 ppg), 3-point shooting (46.1%) and free-throw shooting (90.4%).
However, all played significantly more minutes than Wirth.
All honorees are chosen by WCC coaches.
As a team, GU finished the regular season 4th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-13.8), 12th in field-goal percentage (47.4%) and 11th in assists per game (17.8)
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.