Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  Gonzaga women

Despite loss of four starters, Gonzaga women picked to win WCC title

Oct. 5, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 5, 2022 at 8:02 p.m.

Guard Kayleigh Truong (11) drives to the basket during Gonzaga's WCC Championship basketball victory over BYU on March 8, 2022, at the Orleans in Las Vegas.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Guard Kayleigh Truong (11) drives to the basket during Gonzaga's WCC Championship basketball victory over BYU on March 8, 2022, at the Orleans in Las Vegas. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Now that’s respect.

Gonzaga women’s basketball lost four starters from last year’s team but are a near-unanimous choice to win the West Coast Conference title this year.

In a vote of conference coaches released Wednesday morning, the Zags received nine out of 10 first-place votes to finish well ahead of Portland and defending champion BYU.

“In a quality program, you graduate good players every year,” coach Lisa Fortier said earlier this week.

And while point guard Kayleigh Truong is the only returning starter, the Zags got big minutes last season out of twin sister Kaylynne Truong and forward Yvonne Ejim on a squad that finished 27-7 overall and 15-2 in the WCC.

That team also won the WCC Tournament and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“We have talented players back,” Fortier said. “We graduated four starters, so that’s scary, but Lynne and Vonnie were essentially starters.”

The other WCC coaches know it too: All three Zags were named Wednesday to the 10-player preseason all-conference team for the first time in their careers.

Kayleigh Truong is coming off an All-WCC first-team performance last year, when she led the Zags with 11.2 points a game and handed out a team-high 117 assists . She saw action in 31 games and started in 28.

Kaylynne Truong was named to the WCC Tournament team and was MVP of the Rainbow Wahine Showdown. Averaging 10.4 points and 3.4 assists, she played in 34 games and started in seven.

Ejim, the reigning WCC Sixth Woman of the Year, averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds last year to make the All-WCC second team.

Ejim reached double figures 18 times on the season with a career-high 22 points against Portland on Jan. 6. In that same game, she hauled in 10 boards – one of two double doubles she recorded last season.

If the coaches are right, Gonzaga will win its 16th regular-season title in the last 18 years. During the last 17 seasons, the Zags are 257-33 in WCC play.

The Zags received nine first-place votes and totaled 81 points in the poll.

The poll is voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches, and coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.

Portland received one first-place vote and was selected to finish second with 71 points, while BYU was picked to finish third with 55 points.

BYU, entering its final season in the WCC before joining the Big 12, lost heavily to graduation. The Cougars also lost two-time WCC regular-season MVP Shaylee Gonzales, who transferred to Texas.

BYU’s return first-team pick is Lauren Gustin, who led the conference last year with an average of 10.5 rebounds per game.

Portland returns former WCC Outstanding Player of the Year Alex Fowler, All-WCC second-team selection Haylee Andrews and Lucy Cochrane, a transfer from Oregon who was one of the nation’s best in blocks last season.

Led by league scoring champion Ionna Krimili, the San Francisco Dons came in fourth in the preseason poll with 54 points, just one point shy of third place.

The Dons earned a bid into the WNIT and will look to Krimili and key returners Kennedy Dickie, Jasmine Gayles and Jessica McDowell-White to get USF back in the postseason.

The rest of the picks, in order are Saint Mary’s, San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, Pacific and Pepperdine.

Fans will have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Zags on Oct. 15, at the Numerica Fan Fest at 4 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Admission is free and tickets are not required.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.