Gonzaga women get 9 seed, will face Ole Miss in NCAA Tournament opener
March 12, 2023 Updated Sun., March 12, 2023 at 9:21 p.m.
The Gonzaga women’s basketball team leaps to their feet as they see their team appear on the big screen TV with their seeding, location and opponent on Selection Sunday, Mar. 12, 2023 at Gonzaga University. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
All things considered, Gonzaga had a pretty decent Selection Sunday.
The Zags women got a 9 seed, an easy trip to the Bay Area, a very winnable first-round game Friday against Ole Miss and the advantage of having already played this season at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
For the players and coaches, the tough part was waiting for their name to be called.
The Selection show was three-quarters over when the final quadrant was called, and the Zags (28-4) still didn’t know if they would be an 8, 9 or 10 seed – or their final destination.
The last No. 1 seed went to Stanford – where the shorthanded Zags lost 84-63 on Dec. 4 – but there also was the possibility that Gonzaga would be sent to 2 seed Iowa.
Moments later, the tension was broken. “Gonzaga” and “Ole Miss” appeared on the screen and the players celebrated with about 100 fans, friends and officials at the Volkar Center.
“Now we just have to bring it,” point guard Kaylynne Truong said after the bracket reveal. “I think we’re excited to get over there and start practicing.”
Times for Friday’s games haven’t been announced. Stanford will play the winner of a Wednesday play-in game between Southern Utah and Sacred Heart.
The winners will meet on Monday for a berth in the Sweet 16 in Seattle.
The comparatively short trip is “very nice,” Truong said. “And knowing that we’ve played at Stanford before.”
The 9 seed is the second in as many years for Gonzaga. Last year the Zags beat 8 seed Nebraska in the first round before falling to host and 1 seed Louisville.
“We had five or six seeds that we were wondering that we would be on,” Fortier said. “I’ve been trying to watch games of every team that might be on the 8 or 9 line, just to get a little familiarity.
“But I hadn’t seen any of Ole Miss yet,” Fortier said.
As she spoke, her assistants were already at their desks, beginning the game-planning routine.
Ole Miss is 23-8 overall and finished 11-5 in the rugged Southeastern Conference, good for third place behind defending national champion South Carolina and runner-up LSU.
The Zags and Rebels have one common opponent: Tennessee. The Zag beat Tennessee, 73-72, in the third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, while Ole Miss lost to the Lady Vols by 14 last month in Knoxville, Tennessee.
However, the Rebels took South Carolina to overtime three weeks ago in Oxford, Miss.
Ole Miss has three players averaging in double-figure scoring, led by senior guard Angel Baker averages with 15ppg and 5 rebounds.
Junior forward Madison Scott (11.8ppg, 8.2 rpg) and senior guard Marquesha Davis (10.2ppg, 4.7 rpg) are the Rebels’ other top scoring threats.
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