LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Eleven years later, Gonzaga women’s coach Lisa Fortier hasn’t forgotten the biggest win in program history.
That was in 2011. It was Courtney Vandersloot’s senior year, which ended in the Elite Eight with a loss to Stanford.
“My kids ask me all the time, ‘Who did we lose to in the Elite Eight?’ ” Fortier said Saturday. “They don’t ever ask us how did we get to the Elite Eight?”
The answer: by beating Louisville in the Sweet 16.
The memory evoked a smile from Fortier, a GU assistant at the time under Kelly Graves.
“That was fun,” Fortier said. “And we made some big defensive plays. I was coaching defense at the time.”
Back then, first- and second-round NCAA games were awarded by bid. That’s how the 11th-seeded Zags were able to land home games against Iowa and UCLA.
The regionals had already been scheduled for the Arena, which meant the Zags stayed in Spokane.
Vandersloot did a little of everything that day, scoring 29 points, handing out seven assists and getting seven steals as the Zags beat seven-seeded Louisville 76-69.
Cheered on by a crowd of more than 10,000, Janelle Bekkering came up big in the closing minutes for Gonzaga with eight of her 15 points.
Kelly Bowen added 12 and Katelan Redmon scored 10 for the Bulldogs, who won their 21st straight game.
The game began and ended poorly for the Cardinals. They got just 5 minutes out of leading scorer Monique Reid, who pulled a groin muscle during warm-ups.
Weeks after the game, Louisville coach Jeff Walz was reprimanded by the NCAA for using profane and abusive language toward game officials, individuals seated at the scorer’s table and on the team bench, as well as kicking the scorer’s table.
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