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Abby O’Connor: One More Year

The senior will be using her extra year

Tyler Tjomsland | The Spokesman Review

Abby O’Connor was the women’s version of Andrew Nembhard. She transferred in from Loyola Chicago, where she started 89 games over three years. She was expected to redshirt a season and then take over at the wing for the departed Jill Townsend. Just hours before their opening game, O’Connor got word that her waiver was accepted and she was eligible to play this season.

Like Nembhard, O’Connor will be returning to Spokane in the Fall. The senior is taking advantage of her extra year of eligibility to play a second season in a Bulldog uniform and she brings veteran experience to a roster desperately in need of it.

It took a couple weeks, but O’Connor became a mainstay in the rotation for Lisa Fortier. She loves her versatility and toughness, especially on the glass. She was also one of Gonzaga’s better defenders. By the end of the season, she was playing 15-18 minutes a game.

The biggest issue with O’Connor is that she had so many other scorers ahead of her that she didn’t hunt her shot as much as she needed to. Next year, she needs to be aggressive in that regard. She essentially became a three-point specialist this season, with 46 of her 66 field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. She did not attempt a single free throw. We know she’s a capable shooter. She shot 39 percent from distance this season and was consistently good at Loyola Chicago.

Now, the next evolution, is to get back to being that double-figure scorer she was her first three years of college. She earned All-League honors of some kind all three years in the Missouri Valley Conference, highlighted by a first team accolade as a sophomore. If she can get back to that level next season, it elevates Gonzaga’s ceiling exponentially.

She averaged 13 points and eight rebounds across her final two seasons at Loyola as their star player. She is one of just two Ramblers to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 100 blocks in a career. But she averaged just three points and two rebounds as a bench piece for Gonzaga. With Townsned and the Wirths gone, all three of their double figure scorers are departing, which leaves the possibility of O’Connor becoming the leading scorer on the team. She likely slots into the starting lineup alongside Kayleigh Truong and Cierra Walker on the perimeter, and if she re-finds that aggressiveness and scoring ability, Gonzaga won’t take a huge step backward.