Gonzaga’s Kaylynne Truong, Lisa Fortier earn WCC player and coach of the year awards
March 1, 2023 Updated Wed., March 1, 2023 at 7:20 p.m.
Capping one of the most successful regular seasons in Gonzaga history, Lisa Fortier was named Wednesday as the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year and point guard Kaylynne Truong the WCC’s Player of the Year.
Forward Yvonne Ejim and guard Brynna Maxwell joined Truong on the 10-player first team. Starter McKayla Williams was an honorable mention selection and Calli Stokes made the all-freshman team.
The coach of the year award is Fortier’s fifth in nine seasons as head coach and comes after a 27-3 overall record (heading into the WCC Tournament) and a first-place 17-1 conference mark despite injuries to several key players.
One of those players was starting point guard Kayleigh Truong, who suffered a serious injury to her right foot five games into the season.
In stepped her twin sister Kaylynne, who was a backup last season.
The Houston native responded by averaging 16.4 points a game, while dishing out a WCC-leading 4.9 assists per game and shooting 42% from long range.
“She’s been the glue that’s held us together,” Fortier said of Truong.
“She was ready, and I don’t think any of us were shocked at what she’s done and how she handled the situation,” assistant coach Stacy Clinesmith said.
Truong also averaged a team-high 32½ minutes per game.
“Honestly, I can’t thank the coaching staff enough, and my teammates,” Truong said Wednesday afternoon as the Zags prepared for the WCC Tournament.
“People say I’m the glue, but I don’t feel the pressure,” Truong said. “On any given night, any player can lead the team to victory.”
Truong is Gonzaga’s 11th player of the year and the first since 2021. Fortier last earned the coaching honor in 2019.
Fortier got the season off to a strong start with wins over Louisville and Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Despite the injuries, the Zags later turned in a 14-game winning streak and went 15-0 at home. The WCC title is the seventh in nine seasons for Fortier, a Naismith Coach of the Year candidate.
“It’s an honor, so you never want to discount it,” Fortier said. “But it’s a program award, always.
“It’s really what they’ve done,” Fortier said, nodding toward the players. “We always say we won the coach of the year award, not me.”
Ejim, a junior from Calgary, Alberta, leads the Zags in scoring (16.4 points a game) and rebounds (8.2 per game) and has six double-doubles this year.
A three-time WCC Player of the Week, she has scored at least 20 points in nine games this season, including a career-high 32-point performance against Queens on Dec. 6.
Also on Wednesday, Ejim was named one of five finalists for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award.
Maxwell, a senior transfer from Utah, leads the nation in 3-point percentage this season at 50%, and has made at least one long-range shot in 29 of the Zags’ 30 games . She also shoots 94.7% from the free-throw line.
Williams, a junior from Los Angeles, has started in every game this season . Williams had a career-high 19 points at Pacific.
Redshirt freshman Stokes appeared in 27 games and averaged 19 minutes per game.
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.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.