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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Gonzaga women hope to avoid letdown against San Diego on Monday

Gonzaga Bulldogs’ Calli Stokes is helped up by teammates during a win over Brigham Young on Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Courtesy Gonzaga Athletics)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

It’s only mid-December, but the Gonzaga women’s basketball season is already full of surprises.

A hard-fought win over BYU was barely in the books Saturday afternoon when Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier was asked about Monday’s West Coast Conference game against San Diego.

“They’re a great defensive program,” Fortier said. “They try to slow down the game and force turnovers.”

Not on Saturday.

Three hours later, the Toreros raced up and down the court at Portland, putting up 56 shots before losing 84-81.

It’s unclear whether that will affect GU’s game plan, as the shorthanded Zags might not like that pace.

GU (10-2) had nine players in uniform Saturday as they beat BYU 67-58, and Fortier was hopeful that backup forward Maud Huijbens will be cleared from concussion protocol by Monday or Wednesday, when the Zags play Montana in a nonconference game at the Kennel.

It’s been a strange season so far for the 6-5 Toreros, who took USC to the limit, beat Idaho State by one point and went into WCC play coming off a 23-point loss to San Diego State.

The Toreros are still looking for a go-to player on offense, as no one averages more than the 10.8 ppg of Kiera Oakry.

The redshirt senior was held to seven points at Portland, but four other Toreros scored in double figures.

Post Laura Erikstrup and guard Ayanna Khalfani led the way with 14 points each as USD shot 55% (31 for 56) from the field.

The Toreros continue to turn defense into offense, as they lead the WCC in scoring defense at 59.3 points and are in second in turnovers forced per game (17.45).

Gonzaga has won the last 12 games in the series, last losing in 2016.

Senior Myah Pace is closing in on several milestones, sitting just 52 points away from 1,000 and 30 steals away from 250 in her career.