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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Gonzaga women resume WCC play at Pacific before return to Kennel after almost four weeks away

Stanford’s Cameron Brink, left, battles for the ball against visiting Gonzaga’s Kaylynne Truong, during the first half of Sunday’s game. (Associated Press)

The Gonzaga women have a game Thursday night, and these days that’s about the best you can hope for.

The Zags have seen their share of COVID-related postponements, three of which still need to be made up, but they expect to tip off at Pacific.

They also expect to win, considering GU is 10-4 while the Tigers are struggling with a 3-9 record. The Zags also have won the past 10 meetings between the schools.

During an interview earlier this week, coach Lisa Fortier enjoyed talking about “basketball things” – a young Pacific lineup “that’s talented and very young – and that to me means very dangerous.”

Two days later, the Zags will continue West Coast Conference play against San Diego. It will be their first home game in almost four weeks, a fact that speaks to the crazy times.

Fortier reflected on that too, emphasizing that despite the uncertainties around scheduling, testing, mental health and the other inconveniences of the pandemic, life is pretty good.

“In relation to other years, it’s more challenging,” Fortier said. “But on the other hand, we get to coach and play, and we are well taken care of and well supported.

“It isn’t easy … and if you’re not a very flexible person, it’s really challenging.”

Flexibility came in handy last week as the Zags were able to arrange a short-notice game at No. 2 Stanford. GU lost 66-50, but at least got a chance to play.

The only drawback: The Zags had to fly back to Spokane late Sunday, then fly back to northern California on Wednesday. They also have a late flight back home Thursday night, and classes early the next day.

Senior guard Cierra Walker didn’t wax philosophical on the challenges.

“I’m just excited to be back playing,” Walker said. “There was a lot of uncertainty last year, so I’m not taking any games for practices for granted.”

The Zags also won’t take Pacific – or anyone else – for granted. That’s one reason GU is 49-4 in WCC regular-season games in the past three years.

“But they don’t care who we are,” Fortier said of the Tigers, who are 0-1 in the conference after a 94-68 defeat Saturday at No. 18 BYU.

The young Tigers continue to impress. Anaya James – a four-time WCC Player of the Week – is averaging 15.7 points and teammate Elizabeth Elliott adds 12.9.

Sam Ashby, a junior from Australia, is shooting 50% (17 for 34) from 3-point range. She’s the only player in the conference shooting 50% or better on 3s.

The Zags held defending NCAA champion Stanford to 34% shooting, the Cardinal’s lowest mark of the season.

In their lone WCC game so far, the Zags won 76-65 at Portland partly because of a career-high 25 points from senior Melody Kempton.

In that game, sophomore Yvonne Ejim had 22 points and 10 rebounds, both career highs.

Despite losing narrowly (45-42) on the boards at Stanford, the Zags rank ninth nationally with a plus-10.9.

Because of rising COVID metrics, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lowered the threshold for indoor megaevents to 500 attendees.

As an additional precaution, in-arena food service, including concessions, will be closed during home games until further notice. GU recently adopted the same precautions for home games.