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Gonzaga women have two tough road battles this week

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Road wins over San Diego and BYU would effectively clinch the title

NCAA Womens Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs Saint Mary's Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another pair of big wins for Gonzaga women, as the Bulldogs took care of San Francisco and Portland to now have a 17-4 overall record, as well as having a 10-0 WCC record. There were even bigger news regarding the other teams in the league. Saint Mary’s women not only lost to BYU last Thursday, but then fell surprisingly to Pacific, dropping them to 6-4 in the league. BYU got the big win, but then fell themselves to San Diego a couple of days later.

That leaves the Zags literally by themselves in first place at 10-0, with BYU in second at 7-3. Saint Mary’s and LMU are close behind at 6-4. Gonzaga is the clear favorite to win the WCC, but it’ll be pretty much over after this week if things go well.

Thursday - San Diego 12-9 (5-5)

The Toreros play a slow pace style of basketball, and lies on their defense to win games. Their best player is Aubrey El-Ward, who leads the team in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and assists (3.0). After missing most of last season, Maya Hood returned for her senior season. But she hasn’t scored at the level she was at before her injury, averaging 12.2 ppg. She does lead the team in rebounding at 7.1 rpg. Sydney Williams is the other double-digit scorer at 10.2 ppg.

While San Diego has historically given Gonzaga fits at home, the lack of scoring combined with the Zags momentum makes this an unlikely upset pick. Still, don’t expect a blowout.

Saturday - BYU 12-9 (7-3)

This is by far the toughest game on the schedule, and the Cougars might be the favorite to win this one. They haven’t lost at home in a couple of years, and have owned the Zags at home over the last several seasons. That overall record is misleading as well, with BYU playing a brutal non-conference schedule.

This is a battle between the two best players in the league, with returning Player of the Year and current WCC leading scorer Cassie Devasharayee (formerly Broadhead) going up against the reigning WCC Player of the Week and second leading scorer Jill Barta. While the top scoring guard for BYU averages 20.0 ppg, she’s not the biggest problem for the Zags.

After the Volleyball season ended, Sara Hamson was able to play for the BYU basketball team. She stands at 6’7, which is comparable to a 7’2 male center. She doesn’t have much of an offensive game, but is a terror on defense, averaging over four blocks a game, and already having three games of nine blocks. Considering that the Zags primarily score from the inside, that will be the battle to watch. Barta along with Zykera Rice, will have to stretch the floor and make the slow footed Hamson move around.

Even if the Zags don’t sweep this week’s games, they’ll still likely win the regular season. But beating BYU is fun regardless of which gender does it, and winning in Provo has been the toughest task to date for the women’s program. Exercising this demon is priority No. 1 for this team.