The Gonzaga women will need to dig even deeper on Sunday.
The Zags are coming off a remarkable performance on Thursday, when they beat a solid Stephen F. Austin team 71-59 despite dressing only eight players.
“We came down here and played a really good team in a rough situation,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said after the game.
The degree of difficulty, however, ratchets up considerably at noon Sunday when the Zags tip off at No. 2 Stanford.
It’s doubtful that GU will have the services of starting point guard Kayleigh Truong (foot), starting forward Eliza Hollingsworth (illness) or backup forward Maud Huijbens (concussion).
Stanford, however, is a known commodity. The Cardinal are 9-1, with their only loss coming in overtime against No. 1 South Carolina and are loaded with top-tier players.
The Cardinal return nine players who played last season and are the only team in the country returning two All-Americans in forward Cameron Brink and guard Haley Jones.
On paper, this is the toughest game of the season. But wait, GU fans might ask: Didn’t the Zags take Stanford to the wire last year in Spokane?
Yes, but the Cardinal were without All-American Jones. A few weeks later, a full-strength Stanford squad handled the Zags by 16 points in the Bay Area.
That’s where this year’s rematch will take place, and the Cardinal are loaded as usual. They lost the Hull sisters of Spokane to graduation but are a heavy favorite to win a strong Pac-12.
Stanford is ranked No. 2 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Tara VanDerveer is the winningest coach in women’s college basketball history with an overall record of 1,166-260.
Meanwhile, the Zags are 7-1 and back in the rankings last week after winning two of three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
But they paid a price in the process, losing Truong and Huijbens indefinitely; theoretically, Hollingsworth could join the Zags if she recovers from what the school said is a non-COVID illness.
At Stephen F. Austin, the Zags relied heavily on guard Kaylynne Truong and forward Yvonne Ejim, who combined for 40 points.
Assuming Huijbens and Hollingsworth can’t play, GU’s biggest challenge will come in the paint, as Ejim is the Zags’ only experienced forward.
GU is back home Tuesday to play Queen’s University . Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
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.