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10 Observations: Women’s FanFest

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Our first look at this year’s team

ZagWBB | Twitter

The Gonzaga women took the court Tuesday night in their Numerica FanFest event. In a cruel twist, there were no fans in attendance due to Covid-19 restrictions. The group split into two teams of seven and played an exciting 16-minute scrimmage that came down the final shot. The white team overcame a seven-point deficit and beat the blue team, 27-24, after the blue squad missed multiple game-tying threes in the final seconds. Here are some notable observations from the event:

  1. The graduation of your two starting guards would normally be a huge concern for any program. Not for Gonzaga. The Truong twins are going to be superstars by the end of their careers in Spokane. For now, they enter their sophomore seasons looking to replace Jessie Loera and Katie Campbell, and they’re off to a good start. Each twin led the attack for their respective teams. Kaylynne led all players with five assists and Kayleigh led all scorers with 10 points. They are both incredibly patient and remarkably mature for being second-year players. Jenn Wirth said she’s most excited by their improvement and is looking for them to step into leadership roles. It would not be shocking if both were in the starting lineup for the season opener.
  2. Reigning WCC Player of the Year Jill Townsend is going to be one of the best players on the entire West Coast this season. As usual, she stuffed the stat sheet with five points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals. She seems to have added an even deadlier mid-range game, making her impossible to guard as she can score at all three levels.
  3. The Wirth twins look poised for huge senior seasons. Jenn Wirth has extended her range to the three-point line, making her a pick-and-pop threat that can open up the paint for the other post player she’s playing with. Jenn led the blue team with eight points and four rebounds. LeeAnne led all players with six rebounds and was a game-high +11 while on the court. She’s not the scorer her sister is, but she’s a fierce rebounder and a better defender. The two sisters complement each other quite well.
  4. Melody Kempton overhauled her shot in the offseason. As mentioned in her player preview, she led the team in free throw attempts a season ago, but had the worst free throw percentage of any player with more than 15 attempts. Her overhaul is off to a good start as she went 4-for-4 from the line.
  5. Cierra Walker might start at the shooting guard spot and with good reason. Her first shot of the game was a knockdown jumper from distance, and she followed it up with a mid-range jumper off a screen later in the quarter. Unfortunately, she also led all players in turnovers with three, but there’s no question she can score the ball and will take over Campbell’s role as the lefty sharpshooter.
  6. All three true freshman played decent minutes. The highest ranked recruit, McKayla Williams, showed off some of her athleticism and vision. She found Jenn Wirth on a beautiful pick-and-roll late in the game. Yvonne Ejim did not attempt a shot, but grabbed a couple rebounds in her 10 minutes. She’s got good size, but is stuck behind several talented upperclassmen. Lily Scanlon is a scrappy guard who can be a solid role player down the road. She scored four points and was all over the court. It’s hard to find minutes for any of the three on paper, but there are minutes to be had at the back-up wing spot.
  7. One of the reasons for that is that Louise Forsyth is not guaranteed anything. She has struggled through injuries and inconsistency her whole career, and she didn’t look great on Tuesday. She went 0-for-3 from deep and two of those weren’t close. The senior from Canada is looking to end her career on a high note after a rocky first three seasons, but there are players behind her looking to steal a spot in the rotation.
  8. Freshman Eliza Hollingsworth redshirted last season. She has the look of someone who can develop behind the Wirths for one more season and then take over a rotation spot next year. She has great size and has a knack for rebounding. Abby O’Connor is this year’s redshirt. The transfer from Loyola Chicago is going to be a big factor in 2021-22. She drained a three and a pull-up jumper and could very easily take over the starting wing spot after Townsend graduates.
  9. Ana Virjoghe and Kylee Griffen were not in attendance due to Covid-19 protocols, but there was no word on whether they contracted the virus or were just a close contact. Virjoghe, a true center in every sense, is looking to increase her offensive output this season. Griffen is coming off two season-ending injuries and has yet to play a minute for the Bulldogs.
  10. The feel of the building with no fans was certainly interesting. The benches were spread out into two rows with socially distant chairs. Behind the benches, the seats were covered in large Gonzaga tarps. The student section had homemade signs in every other seat, which is a cool touch. The broadcasters and arena staff had plexiglass between them at the table. Lisa Fortier’s squad will only play in this home environment one time prior to the start of WCC play. The women’s full non-conference schedule was announced during the game. They play top-ranked South Carolina as part of a multi-team event. They follow that up with two road games at South Dakota State and Wyoming before hosting Montana. They finish their slate with games in Las Vegas against Eastern Michigan and North Alabama.