Jessie Loera may be the “backup” point guard on the depth chart, but she is an invaluable piece of the rotation.
Most teams don’t have the luxury of having two point guards that are worthy of starting, but that’s exactly what Lisa Fortier has at her disposal in Loera and senior Laura Stockton. Last year, Loera built on a good freshman campaign by seizing a prominent role in the rotation en route to finishing with the second-best assist to to turnover ration in the WCC (2.2:1) while playing in every game and making seven starts.
Despite being the shortest player on the team, the 5’6” guard from Moses Lake makes her presence felt on both ends of the floor. On defense, she’s proven to be more than capable of steadily forcing turnovers with her quick hands and good anticipation. At the offensive end, she led all of Gonzaga’s non-starters in scoring last year with a 6.2ppg average highlighted by a dynamic 12-point first half against Stanford in the NCAA Tournament.
Loera will be expected to reprise her role in the rotation this season, sharing back court duties with Stockton while giving Gonzaga two ball-handlers to facilitate the attack. The Zags don’t feature too many great three-point shooters, and they will lean on Loera to be one of the long-distance threats. It will be vital that she makes improving her numbers in that respect a point of emphasis, as her conversion rate dropped from 32.7% (17-52) as a freshman to 26.4% (24-91) last season.
After a strong finish to her sophomore campaign, let’s hope Loera picks up where she left off this fall.