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In Gonzaga’s first home West Coast Conference game of the year, on Jan. 3, Saint Mary’s forward Megan McKay dominated the Zags inside. Her 29 points and eight rebounds were both game highs, though GU prevailed 74-62 in the Kennel.
Like it or not, the Zags appear to be slotted into a five seed and destined to play next week at some ag-tech campus in Ames, Iowa; College Station, Texas; or Corvallis, Oregon. In other words, motivation this week must come from within.
Eighth-seeded Pepperdine has rattled off three wins in three nights, including an impressive 89-72 thrashing of No. 4 San Francisco on Saturday, to earn a shot at top-ranked Gonzaga.
Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross got off to a bit of a slow start, by his standards, with just 14 points in Thursday’s opening-round tournament win over Pacific.
Most college basketball teams fly to games. Commercially. In the same planes we all do. But one of the perks of playing for one of the nation’s elite college basketball programs is traveling on privately chartered jets. That rarefied company includes Gonzaga.
So, what’s it like to travel when you’re one of the elite college basketball programs in the nation?
No. 8-seeded Pepperdine thumped No. 4 San Francisco 89-72 on Saturday at the Orleans Arena. It was the Waves’ third win in three nights and their second straight upset.
In a year full of superlatives for the Gonzaga women, it’s time to offer another: This was without doubt the best regular season in school history.
Jade’ Smith added 16 points for the Waves (15-17), while Kessler Edwards had 15 points and six rebounds.
These lengthy postseason breaks are nothing new for the Zags, who have an unmatched track record of handling them successfully.
Much of Spokane is focused on – and even empties out during – the annual West Coast Conference Championships at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. That’s even more the case this year with the Gonzaga men’s basketball team ranked No. 1 in the country and the Zags women at No. 14, making both teams the No. 1 seeds in the 2019 edition of WCC Tournament.
It began almost 12 months ago in a sullen locker-room on the campus of Stanford University, where the Zags had just lost their first-round NCAA Tournament game to the host Cardinal.
For two-plus decades, the West Coast Conference Tournament has mirrored the WCC regular season. Gonzaga has ruled both, only slightly less so when it comes to the conference tournament.
Should the Gonzaga women advance to Tuesday’s West Coast Conference Tournament final, they could face BYU for a third time after a pair of two-point losses to the Cougars.
Before Gonzaga took up more or less permanent residence in the high rise that is the NCAA Tournament bracket, the Bulldogs had to get past the doorman. And before that, they had to find the neighborhood.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs finished a perfect 16-0 in West Coast Conference play and won the WCC by five games. The only losses for the 29-2 Zags came against Tennessee and at North Carolina.
The 14th-ranked Bulldogs finished 16-2 in West Coast Conference play, one game ahead of second-place Brigham Young. The Zags finished 27-3 overall and enter the conference tournament on a four-game win streak.
Just 20 minutes from downtown Sin City is world-class rock climbing in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It’s an adult playground made of sandstone and sunshine.
Colbey Ross had 14 points for Pepperdine. Jade Smith added 10 points. Victor Ohia Obioha had four blocks for Pepperdine.
Killian Tillie’s recovery took another step forward – actually a number of steps – on Thursday when he practiced with the team for extended minutes.