The WCC women’s basketball tournament kicks off this afternoon in Las Vegas with a host of teams looking to try and upset the Gonzaga Bulldogs and punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament.
Sort of like their male counterparts, the women don’t play until the semifinals on Monday, as they earned the top overall seed and regular season WCC Championship. They are the favorites for this tournament, and all eyes will be on some of the other schools to see if they can make it a contest.
Some storylines to watch out for
Can anyone challenge Gonzaga?
This is the ultimate question going into the tournament. The Zags were nearly perfect throughout the WCC, dropping one game to Santa Clara back in early February. What makes it extra complicating for opposing teams is that the Zags are nearly back at full strength after spending a large majority of the season missing key players.
Maud Huijbens has been picking up minutes since mid-February after missing three months with a concussion, and Kayleigh Truong returned for the second-to-last game against San Diego after missing three months with a foot injury.
So, in short, the Zags got better and the rotation got longer, exactly how head coach Lisa Fortier likes it. Huijbens has been contributing around 17 minutes per game, giving the Zags another option in the post. Truong is just easing into the rotation, also playing around 17 minutes over the past two games.
If Gonzaga loses, all it does it hurt their seed line for the tournament. If someone else wins, the WCC is bursting a bubble.
There has to be a dark horse, right?
In a way, the women’s tournament this year feels much more like the men’s side for the Zags. The women handled business tightly throughout the season and their lone conference loss was to Santa Clara, a somewhat confusing effort considering how the rest of the conference went for the Broncos. As the No. 8 seed, we shouldn’t be expecting Santa Clara to be making a meaningful run here.
Theoretical money would be on the No. 2 seeded Portland Pilots, but the Pilots lost both games to Gonzaga in contests in which the Zags owned the tempo and never really faltered. If Haylee Andrews wasn’t hurt, I’d say never bet against a team featuring her and Alex Fowler. However, Andrews tore her ACL against BYU on Feb. 3 and hasn’t played since. Fowlers is a boss-level scorer, but I’m not sure she alone can provide enough power to get the Pilots across the finish line.
Let’s go with the No. 3 seeded San Diego Toreros for a couple of reasons key reasons—they are a good offensive rebounding team and they don’t turn the ball over too often. They don’t lose too many possessions and they create second-chance opportunities. That is a recipe for success against any team, but especially one like Gonzaga with a defense that makes life miserable. The Toreros played Gonzaga incredibly close for three quarters just a week ago as well.
Tournament Game Info
Thursday, March 2 - First Round
- Game 1: No. 8 Santa Clara vs. No. 9 Pepperdine, 12:00 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
- Game 2: No. 7 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 10 LMU, 2:30 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
Friday, March 3 - Second Round
- Game 3: No. 5 BYU vs. Winner of Game 1, 12:00 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
- Game 4: No. 6 Pacific vs. Winner of Game 2, 2:30 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
Saturday, March 4 - Quarterfinals
- Game 5: No. 4 San Francisco vs. Winner of Game 3, 1:00 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
- Game 6: No. 3 San Diego vs. Winner of Game 4, 3:30 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
Monday, Marcy 6 - Semifinals
- No. 1 Gonzaga vs. Winner of Game 7, 12:00 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
- No. 2 Portland vs. Winner of Game 6, 2:30 pm PT, Regional Sports Networks, BYUtv, WCC Network
Tuesday, March 7 - Championship
- Championship Game: 1:00 pm PT, ESPNU