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Sports >  NCAA basketball

With trip to the Bahamas in sight, Gonzaga women first face tough test at Wyoming

Nov. 14, 2022 Updated Mon., Nov. 14, 2022 at 9:49 p.m.

Gonzaga guard Payton Muma dribbles during an exhibition win over Western Washington in early November at the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Payton Muma dribbles during an exhibition win over Western Washington in early November at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Please forgive the Gonzaga women if they want to look past Tuesday’s game at Wyoming and toward their trip to paradise.

That would be Paradise Island in the Bahamas, site of the three-day Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

“We’re very excited for the Bahamas,” guard Payton Muma said Saturday night, after the Zags dispatched Southern Utah 91-38 to improve to 2-0.

Next to Muma in the postgame interview room sat Eliza Hollingsworth, a native of Australia who admitted being “excited to go somewhere a bit warmer than here.”

But first up is the trip to Laramie, where the lows will hit single digits during the Zags’ visit. The bigger challenge is the 7,165-foot elevation, which Coach Lisa Fortier noted is pasted everywhere to intimidate visiting teams.

Regardless, there will be no overlooking the Cowgirls. Last year in Spokane, they took GU to the limit before losing 54-47.

Wyoming returns three starters from a team that went 17-13 overall and 11-6 in the Mountain West Conference. That was enough to be picked for a fourth-place finish.

New head coach Heather Ezell will count on super seniors Tommi Olson and Quinn Weidemann, the latter averaging 11 points a game and shooting 42% from long range last year.

However, the Cowgirls got off to a rough start in their opener Friday at North Dakota.

Leading 53-52 with just over 5 minutes to play, Wyoming managed just two free throws the rest of the way as North Dakota pulled away to win 67-55.

Wyoming (0-1) shot just under 34-percent in the loss and went 5-of-21 from 3-point range. The Cowgirls also struggled at the line, making just 12 of 22 foul shots.

“We’ve got to step up in those pressure moments and knock those down,” said It’s something we can work on and get fixed, among other things.”

The Fighting Hawks (2-0) shot 36.4-percent from the field and went 4-for-19 from beyond the arc. UND, however, went 15-of-17 at the free throw line while the Cowgirls went just 12-of-22.

Malene Pedersen led Wyoming with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

Gonzaga is coming off two easy wins, allowing Fortier and her staff to spread out the minutes. That may pay off in the thin air of Laramie if the starters tire sooner than usual.

Against Southern Utah, five GU players scored in double figures and 10 saw double-digit minutes on the court.

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