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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Women’s basketball: Gonzaga rises to No. 15 in AP poll as bracket projections have them hosting in the NCAAs

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Claire O'Connor (4), forward Yvonne Ejim (15) and forward Eliza Hollingsworth (12) react with head coach Lisa Fortier during the second half of a women’s college basketball game against the San Diego Toreros on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

It was a predictably emotional Senior Night for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team Wednesday.

The Zags and a sellout crowd were saying goodbye to four graduates – the Truong twins, Kaylynne and Kayleigh, Eliza Hollingsworth and Brynna Maxwell – and senior Destiny Burton.

Each senior played well in the Zags’ 90-40 win over Portland.

If Gonzaga does what it should at the West Coast Conference Tournament, Zags fans may get to see the team again.

An indication that Gonzaga could host first- and second-round games came in the form of the NCAA’s final top 16 rankings announced Thursday. The Zags were ranked 15th.

Gonzaga, which is riding a 23-game winning streak, moved up one spot Monday in the latest Associated Press rankings to 15th.

ESPN’s Charlie Creme had the Zags hosting in his latest bracketology and placed in the bracket with No. 1 seed Stanford the past couple weeks.

Creme revised it Monday. He now has Gonzaga in UCLA’s bracket and destined to face the Bruins, if both advance, in Portland.

The 29-2 Zags, who have the best winning percentage (.935) in school history, aren’t looking that far ahead, though. They’ve been on a one-game-at-a-time mission all season and that’s not changing now.

The WCC announced final seedings for the conference tournament Sunday. Play at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas begins Thursday with No. 8 seed San Diego (8-21) against No. 9 Pepperdine (5-24).

Santa Clara (24-7) locked up the second seed and other double bye to the semifinals.

The San Diego/Pepperdine winner will meet No. 5 Pacific (16-13) on Friday at noon. Immediately following No. 6 Saint Mary’s (13-17) takes on No. 7 Loyola Marymount (10-18) at 2:30.

Portland (18-12) and San Francisco (14-15) finished tied for third place at 10-6. Portland secured the No. 3 seed with its win over Santa Clara in the second tiebreaker rule and San Francisco is the fourth seed.

San Francisco and Portland take on Thursday’s winners on Saturday. The worst remaining seed winner will meet Gonzaga on Monday at noon and the other Saturday winner will face Santa Clara at 2:30 p.m.

The championship game is Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Cougs feeling good

Nothing like pulling an upset on the road against a ranked team to end the regular season on a good note.

Washington State’s women pulled off a road upset on Saturday, knocking off 18th-ranked Colorado 72-63.

The victory moved WSU among the ‘last four in’ in Creme’s bracketology.

The Pac-12 Conference Tournament begins Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Washington State (18-13), the No. 9 seed, faces No. 8 California (17-13) at 2:30 p.m. The Bears took both conference games against the Cougars. WSU fell 73-72 in overtime at Cal and lost 66-59 in Pullman.

It figures WSU needs at least one victory to secure no worse than a play-in game in the NCAA Tournament. A couple victories might lock up an at-large berth.

In other openers Wednesday, No. 12 Oregon (11-20) meets No. 5 Colorado (21-8); No. 10 Washington (16-13) takes on No. 7 Arizona (16-14); and No. 11 Arizona State (11-19) meets No. 6 Utah (21-9).

The WSU/Cal winner meets No. 1 Stanford (26-4), which moved up to second in the AP rankings, in the quarterfinals Thursday.

The championship game is Saturday at 2 p.m.