Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Gonzaga University Athletics
Sports >  Gonzaga athletics

Gonzaga women set to host Big Sky Conference favorite Idaho State

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 17, 2021

The Gonzaga women aren’t looking past Idaho State, and they shouldn’t.

The Bengals come into Thursday’s nonconference game at the Kennel with almost everyone back from a squad that took a ranked Kentucky team to the limit in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

They’re also ranked among the top dozen midmajor programs in the nation, just two spots behind the Zags.

On top of that, ISU is also the overwhelming favorite to win the Big Sky Conference; last weekend, the Zags got everything they wanted against a Montana team that’s picked among the Big Sky’s also-rans.

“I think our team knows that,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said after Tuesday’s practice, an intense affair that spoke to the challenges ahead.

They also know that defending NCAA Tournament champion Stanford will be in town three days later.

“But we have a pretty big game Thursday,” guard Kaylynne Truong said.

“Our players are trying to focus on what we’re doing in practice,” said Fortier, whose team is 2-0 after a 67-60 win in Missoula on Sunday.

The emphasis, Fortier said, has been on ball security and shot selection.

“I would like to see us execute better,” Fortier said. “Our turnovers (32 in two games) are high partly because we’re throwing the ball all over the place – you can’t afford those things against teams that are disciplined.

“We also had some talks today about shot selection. We need to work for a great shot, and that’s a layup, and I keep trying to remind them that you can always get a kick-out later on the clock.”

On defense, Fortier said she’s concerned with the high foul count, especially among the bigs. Forward Melody Kempton fouled out on Sunday, and Yvonne Ejim was in foul trouble at UM and three days earlier against Montana State.

Idaho State comes to Spokane off a pair of lopsided games. The Bengals (1-1) lost 91-34 at No. 10 Oregon last week, then beat NAIA Park University of Missouri 109-56.

With such a small sample size, Fortier said the Zags are “just trying to focus on what we’re doing in practice.”

Much of the work focused on Idaho State’s offense.

“They are so active and so physical,” Fortier said. “They’re going to get us to make mistakes defensively and then capitalize on it with all the screens and cuts.”

ISU is led by guard Estefania Ors, who’s averaging 12 points.

The Zags counter with height, experience and depth. Perhaps the biggest difference maker has been Kaylynne Truong, who usually backs up her sister Kayleigh but also relieves guard Cierra Walker.

Kaylynne had one of her best games as a Zag at Montana, scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

“Just trying to do whatever I can,” said Truong, who credited the post players for doing a “great job of setting posts” in the Zags’ ball-screen offense.

Thursday’s meeting is the ninth in a series the Zags lead 6-2. In their most recent meeting, in 2019, GU beat the Bengals 70-51 in Spokane.

The Zags haven’t lost to a Big Sky team since 2008, when they fell 75-72 at Portland State.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

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.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.