The Gonzaga Bulldogs women’s basketball team will try to set a school record with two-straight wins over the Stanford Cardinal, as the Big Red Machine highlights their non-conference slate.
As many of us remember, the Zags achieved their biggest non-NCAA Tournament victory last year, knocking off the then No. 7/8 Cardinal, 68-63, in front of the Spokane faithful. This year, the Zags will hit the road and head to sunny California for what we can only hope will be a repeat performance, although that repeat might be harder to come by.
Stanford is returning a good chunk of its squad, and boasts the No. 1 recruit in the country—all of that tidying up to be a preseason No. 3 team. No matter how the cookie crumbles, Nov. 17 is the game to circle on your calendars for the women.
This year, the women are partaking in the Gulf Coast Classic, which will provide the rest of the glitz and glam in the non-conference slate. The Zags should be able to push past their opening round opponents, the Dayton Fliers, for a potential meeting with either Middle Tennessee, or the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn is the one to root for here. The Tigers were a NCAA team (and lost to BYU) who finished 6th in the SEC last season, but are returning two of their top three scorers in senior guard Daisa Alexander and junior forward Unique Thompson.
On the other side of the bracket, the Arizona Sun Devils are looming large. The Sun Devils made a run to the Sweet 16 last season, although they lost quite a bit from that squad. If that were the matchup, we would get to see the Zags and senior guard Jessie Loera take on her younger sister, sophomore Jamie Loera.
The University of Wyoming Cowgirls had a fantastic year in the Mountain West, finishing in third place at 13-5 in conference play. They’ve lost their two leading scorers in Marta Gomez and Bailee Cotton, but return a healthy chunk of the squad for what should be a tough challenge on the road.
Ultimately, it is those road contests that the Zags will have to gain momentum on. The Bulldogs only play five games at home during the non-conference slate (six if you include the exhibition). Of those five games, the Zags should be able to handle most of their opponents pretty easily, but the UT Martin Skyhawks could be a tricky play. The Skyhawks finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference last season and return many key members from that squad.
All in all, there is a lot of quality contests to tune in for this season, and enough hard games to test the Zags mettle before WCC play starts. Despite losing three players from last year’s amazing squad, the Zags were picked by to win the conference at WCC Media Day. As we saw last season, BYU isn’t going away without a fight, and the Zags should roll into WCC play ready to dance.