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Sports >  Gonzaga women

Gonzaga women look ahead to more challenges, opportunities

Sept. 14, 2022 Updated Wed., Sept. 14, 2022 at 5:52 p.m.

Senior point guard Kayleigh Truong, Gonzaga’s lone returning starter, dribbles March 8 against Shaylee Gonzales, who has transferred from BYU to Texas.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Senior point guard Kayleigh Truong, Gonzaga’s lone returning starter, dribbles March 8 against Shaylee Gonzales, who has transferred from BYU to Texas. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Gonzaga women’s basketball is looking forward to a little normalcy, although things may never be quite the same again.

The COVID-19 pandemic is apparently over, only to be replaced by two new realities: the transfer portal and the athletes’ ability to be compensated for their name, image and likeness.

Every program is dealing with those challenges, but GU coach Lisa Fortier acknowledged recently that the Zags missed out on at least one chance to pick up another player via the portal and will go into the seasons with only 12 players.

“That’s what we have,” Fortier said.

The Zags also have a tougher-than-normal nonconference schedule, mainly because they’re playing in eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. GU will open the three-day event Nov. 19 against Louisville, which ended the Zags’ season last year in the second round of the NCAA Tournament,

Also in the field are Texas, Tennessee, Marquette, Rutgers, South Dakota State and UCLA.

There’s no letup in December as GU visits Stanford and Stephen F. Austin, and opens West Coast Conference play Dec. 17 against BYU.

Missing from the schedule is the annual matchup with Washington State, which reached the NCAAs the last two years. That game would have been played in Pullman, and Fortier is hoping to stagger the Stanford and WSU games in the future.

On top of that, the Zags (27-7 overall last year) have only one returning starter in senior point guard Kayleigh Truong.

With practice set to open Sept. 29, Fortier said she has “a few players who are ripe for what’s next.”

At the top of the list are guard Kaylynne Truong and forward Yvonne Ejim, both of whom played starters’ minutes last year.

Fortier also expects progression from forwards Eliza Hollingsworth, Makayla Williams and Maud Huijbens.

“Those guys are ready for the next step, and I think that all of our young guys are read to step up,” Fortier said.

The Zags held their own in the transfer portal – unlike BYU, which saw two-time conference MVP Shaylee Gonzales transfer to Texas.

A key addition could be Utah transfer Brynna Maxwell , who figures to contend for the shooting guard role vacated by graduate Cierra Walker.

Last season, Maxwell averaged 10.5 points and shot 38% from long range to help the surprising Utes reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years.

The Zags also added junior college transfer Destiny Burton, a forward from Arlington, Texas.

The 6-foot Burton played two years at Panola (Texas) College, where she played in 49 games and started 28.

Fans will get their first look at the Zags on Oct. 15, at the team’s annual FanFest event at the Kennel. GU hosts Western Washington in an exhibition game on Nov. 4.

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