LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For the Gonzaga women, handling the moment will be as important as how they deal with Louisville’s pressure defense.
GU hasn’t faced a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament since 2011, when they fell to Stanford in the Elite Eight. But that was in front of a friendly crowd in Spokane.
On Sunday night, they’ll face an top-tier program backed by more than 10,000 fans – an underdog moment for sure.
Much will depend on the Zags’ mental attitude; that is, finding a sweet spot somewhere between “happy to be here” and being too nervous to play.
The Gonzaga women appeared to be in the right frame of mind on Saturday.
One night earlier, the Zags took care of Nebraska in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 68-55. It was the progam’s first NCAA Tournament win in three years, and it helped erase the memory of last year’s upset loss to Belmont.
“I think we’re done with Belmont now,” Coach Lisa Fortier said
So are the players.
“I feel like a lot of smiles after our win last night, just knowing we’re one step closer to our goal,” forward Yvonne Ejim said during Saturday’s media availability.
“I feel it really pumps up our team and gives us a lot of energy and taking that energy into this next game,” Ejim said.
For Fortier and her staff, game day prep will include keeping their players loose, but not too much.
“I think they feel excited. I think they feel loose,” Fortier said. “We don’t have a lot of uptight people when it comes to life. I think they’re a pretty laid-back group, when it comes to school.”
“Practice (on Saturday) was good,” Fortier said. “We were in practice trying to stretch them. I think it gets a little tense. But I think they seem excited and confident that if we can do some stuff, we can do some stuff.”
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