In the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the Gonzaga women got the short end of the stick and had to play a first round game at Maples Pavilion against #4 Stanford. The Cardinal dominated the glass and pulled away late with an 82-68 victory. Six months later, the two teams met at the McCarthey Athletic Center with Stanford ranked eighth in the nation. The Bulldogs built a double digit lead, but watched as Stanford stormed back in the fourth quarter, before Jill Townsend hit a dagger three from the corner to give Gonzaga their biggest win in program history.
On Sunday, the teams meet again, this time back in Palo Alto as they continue their home-and-home series. The Bulldogs upset Stanford in Maples in 2016, the first time they ever beat the Cardinal.
Stanford comes into the game at 3-0 and ranked third in the country. They have the number one freshman recruit in the nation in Hayley Jones, a local product from Archbishop Mitty High School, the same school that produced Aaron Gordon, Brandi Chastain, Mitch Haniger, and Kerri Walsh.
They also return a majority of their roster from a year ago, including the Hull twins from Central Valley High School in Spokane. Last year, Lexie Hull sat out the game with an injury. This year, she’s healthy and thriving, leading the team with 15.3 points a game. Her sister Lacey is third on the team with 9.0 ppg. They may have the deepest roster in the country outside of Oregon. However, Gonzaga’s strength the last two year’s has been their depth. This season, they have a 10-player rotation, so they shouldn’t get worn down like most teams would.
Speaking of Stanford’s roster, Kiana Williams and DiJonai Carrington scored 31 points in the match-up last year and both are returning starters. As a team, Stanford shoots 46 percent from deep and they’ve outscored their three opponents by an average of over 40 points.
Gonzaga will obviously need an entire team effort to pull off another upset, but they understand what needs to be done in order to accomplish this. Katie Campbell was 5-for-6 from deep in their meeting last season. Townsend scored 15 off the bench. They won the game without the services of Jessie Loera (concussion), who is now their starting point guard. They outrebounded Stanford 38-24, shot 8-for-13 from deep, and 19-for-22 at the line.
It’s quite the tall task to defeat one the best teams in the country on their home court, but Gonzaga will not be scared. A majority of these players played them in Maples two years ago and beat the Cardinal last season. If they can replicate what they did last November and do the little things really well, they will have a shot.
Game Time: 5 pm