We all know that the Gonzaga women will (most likely) dominate the West Coast Conference. However, we would not perform our due diligence if we did not at least briefly examine their conference competition. For right now, let’s take a look at the teams that ended the season in the bottom half of the conference.
Portland – The Portland Pilots completed the 2017-18 season with a conference record of 3-15 and 7-23 overall – dead last in the WCC. Their wins came against Pepperdine and Pacific (not too surprising) but the Pilots were able to pull off a stunning display against St. Mary’s beating the Gaels 68-65. Their wins were at home, so the Zags should have nothing to fear when Portland visits the Kennel. However, as the St. Mary’s game goes to show, the Bulldogs should keep in mind that lack-luster teams tend to bring absolutely everything they have when big teams come to town and they are capable of pulling off a nasty upset. Senior Julie Spencer is one to watch – the 6-2 forward recorded a double-double during the St. Mary’s game at home and led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring last year. The Pilots’ losses to GU were 70-56 at home and 75-36 in Spokane.
Santa Clara – Finishing last season with 5-13 in conference play and 9-21 overall, the women’s Broncos were second to last in the conference. They racked up wins against Pepperdine, Pacific, San Diego and twice against Portland. During their second matchup, the Zags got off to a quick start and completely left the Broncos in the dust by going on a six minute run that got the Bulldogs on top 16-4. Even though Dru Toleafoa had her best game of the year from beyond the arc, hitting three of four 3-point attempts, it was not enough to even slow down GU, which ended up dominating the game 71-44. However, Santa Clara has some newcomers this year that may put up a fight against opponents – most notably Tia Hay. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Hay spent the last two seasons at Salt Lake Community College where she averaged 19.3 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. It will be interesting to see what she and the Broncos can achieve going up against the Zags.
Pepperdine – The team from the beaches of Malibu finished with the same conference record as the Broncos (5-13) and only slightly better overall (10-20). In each of their losses to Gonzaga, the Bulldogs held the Waves’ star Yasmine Robinson-Bacote to six points and 14 points when she usually averages 18 points per game. The Waves did pick up a quality conference win against LMU last season in a 85-74 contest. In that game, then-junior Paige Fecske scored a career-high 37 points along with four assists and five rebounds. Both Robinson-Bacote and Fecske are entering this season as seniors – let’s see what they can pull off during their final year.
Pacific – Ending their season in seventh place in the WCC, the Tigers finished 7-11 in the conference and 15-17 overall. Of the 7 conference wins, two came against San Diego, two against Pepperdine, and one against each Portland and Santa Clara. Yes, that’s only six wins; the Tigers were able to garner a quality win against BYU, which finished in third place in the WCC. Together, Ameela Li and GeAnna Luaula-Summers (the latter of which, Pacific lost last season) scored a total of 49 points in the 83-76 win. During their first contest against each other last year, the Zags overpowered the Tigers by shooting 54 percent and ultimately winning 99-72. Spokane was the site of the second meeting. Even though the Tigers forced 13 Gonzaga turnovers and turned them into 12 points, the Bulldogs still ran away with a 90-66 victory in the Kennel.