Last week, Gonzaga had the team’s first home games of the conference season, against a pair of teams that were unbeaten in conference play at the time of those games. And just like the first week, the Zags handled business from the opening tip.
The first game came against Pepperdine, and the size advantage Gonzaga had made this a mismatch from the get go. The final score was 73-51, behind 27 points and 11 rebounds from Jill Barta. The stat that defines this game was the points in the paint differential, with the Zags having 46 points, to the Waves eight.
LMU proved to be a tougher test, as both teams were 3-0 heading in The women struck first, with a 14-0 run to start the game. But the Lions climbed back to make it a one possession game in the second quarter, before another Zag run made it a 12 point halftime lead. The second half was close throughout, with Gonzaga never able to pull away, but thanks to Chandler Smith’s 19 points, the team won 77-67. Including Barta and Zykera Rice, the starting forwards for the Zags combined for 49 points. The return game at the Lions in February will be incredibly tough.
That takes us to this week, with Portland and San Francisco coming up. First is at Portland 4-11 (0-4), against a Pilots team who is 0-4 in conference play. It’s not too surprising, as they were the worst team in the WCC a year ago, with a bunch of seniors on the roster. The Pilots are clearly in a rebuilding mode with six true freshmen, and will be looking for a program defining win.
Whether this game is Spokane or Portland, this is a blowout waiting to happen. The Zags are on a six game winning streak, and just has too much down low for most teams (especially Portland) in the WCC.
Saturday at home against San Francisco 7-8 (2-2) will be much more of a test. The Dons gave Gonzaga a couple of hard fought games in the regular season and is an upper-echelon team in the conference. What makes this team a threat is leading scorer Anna Seilund, who’s one of the top scorers in the conference. She’s coming off of a career-high 36 against Portland, and 24 points along with the game-winning basket to squeak by Pepperdine. The game plan for the Dons is simple, stop Seilund and the win is theirs.
This is an important week for the women when it comes to the standings. Gonzaga is alone at the top at 4-0, while BYU, Saint Mary’s and LMU right below at 3-1. Going 6-0 to start WCC will confirm the Zag’s position as the best team in the league, with a trip to Moraga coming up.