No. 17 Gonzaga women look to keep win streak against Loyola Marymount intact, maintain top spot in WCC
Jan. 25, 2023 Updated Wed., Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:26 p.m.
On a given day, there’s not much separating the women’s teams in the West Coast Conference from those at the bottom. Case in point: Last week, when first-place Gonzaga survived a close call at last-place Pacific.
But in the big picture, there’s clearly a hierarchy at the halfway point of the WCC season. GU (9-0) and Portland (8-1) have the inside track to earn the double byes in the conference tournament, while BYU is still in the hunt, two games behind the Pilots.
Four teams – USF, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s and San Diego – have identical 4-5 records. That leaves a trio of teams tied for last at 2-7: Pacific, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.
While anything can happen, the WCC’s biggest mismatch of the season – on paper, at least – is GU’s home game Thursday night against LMU.
It’s been 21 years since LMU won in Spokane. That was in 2002, when coach Lisa Fortier was still in college and former head coach Kelly Graves was in the second year of building the program.
Halfway through her ninth year at the helm, Fortier is 17-0 against the Lions.
In their last meeting, on New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, the Zags rolled to a 96-51 win, and it was every bit that one-sided.
Gonzaga shot 57.4% from the field and even better from beyond the arc: 60.9%. The Zags hit 14 long-range shots, tied for fourth best in program history. They also held LMU to 32% shooting and won the rebounding battle 43-30.
Apart from the close call at Pacific, the Zags have only improved as they return to the Kennel for the first time in 19 days. Since losing at No. 2 Stanford on Dec. 2, the Zags have won 12 straight, the fifth-longest streak in Division 1.
The 17th-ranked Zags (19-2 overall) have adjusted well to a nine-player lineup, as all five starters have stepped up.
Brynna Maxwell leads the nation in 3-point and foul-shooting percentage, as do the Zags as a team. Kaylynne Truong is averaging 5.3 assists, which ranks 21st nationally. Yvonne Ejim is coming off a 24-point game at Saint Mary’s, McKayla Williams had a career day at Pacific and Eliza Hollingsworth made a pair of critical 3-pointers in the same game.
Meanwhile, LMU is coming off a 20-point loss to city rival Pepperdine. It was the Lions’ fourth straight defeat, with all coming by double digits, and dropped them to 5-15 overall.
Guard Ariel Johnson, a graduate transfer from Florida, is averaging a team-high 13.3 points.
LMU is 5-15 overall .
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