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#19 Zags Face Off Against USD Tonight

starting this week on the road

When I saw the AP Poll drop earlier this week, I was beyond stunned at the rankings. Despite dominating every team in the conference, the Gonzaga Women dropped two spots to #19.

I understand that Oregon State was going to get some high rankings after beating then #16 Utah and #3 Colorado, but how does Louisville go up two spots after beating unranked conference opponents while the Zags go down? More importantly, how does USC only go down four spots after going winning just one game of their last four, including dropping one at home to Washington, a team only receiving 1 vote in the most recent AP Poll, and is now 1-3 on the road?

I fully understand these rankings may not matter that much, but it’s still hard to watch this team get disrespected by the national press and likely lose out on their chance to crack into the AP Top 10 for the first time in program history.

Thankfully, Gonzaga currently sits at #13 in the NCAA NET rankings, which would theoretically put them as the top four seed and have them playing in Portland rather than Albany come March. That being said, I’m suspicious about this going to plan given that the team isn’t listed in the Top 16 Committee Ranking and their seeding would truly be a test of the NET ranking importance (as initially stated by OldzagFan in the comments of my wrap-up on the USF win).

Hopefully, the Bulldogs can use these rankings as fuel to continue their dominance of the WCC and not become complacent in games like tonight against the San Diego Toreros. Since these teams last met with each other just under three weeks ago, USD has lost their last three games and yet to eclipse 60 points.

One HUGE reason for this stems from their inability to make the deep ball as the Toreros have gone 3-32 in those three games. In the last matchup with Gonzaga, USD actually shot well from range with a 6-14 performance, although that was their second best performance on the year so I guess we should’ve known they could hit such a rough patch. Impressively though, USD shot 56% and 49% against top quality WCC opponents in Pacific and Portland, respectively, so their interior play continues to demand respect.

Another reason for their stumbles across conference play has been turnovers. Across their seven WCC games, USD has averaging just under 19 turnovers per game, which is second to last in the WCC. If we exclude the Gonzaga game when the committed just 9, this number jumps to over 20 turnovers per game. Even more concerning, since last playing the Bulldogs, the Toreros have averaged 22 per game. We’ve seen what turnovers can do to the Zags so I’m sure Coach Cindy Fisher has got to be working with her team on cutting down those mistakes.

After a nice performance against Santa Clara last Thursday, the Truong sisters had a tough night against USF this past Saturday so I’m rooting for them to get their mojo flowing while hoping that Kaylynne doesn’t have any lingering issues from her awkward fall suffered in the second quarter.

I’m ma(u)d crazy about Maud Hujibens recent string of impressive games that have seen her tie her career high in points while also bagging her first double-double. I’m not really expecting her to keep on this heater, but I do hope that last week’s performances have juiced up her confidence moving forward because with Naya Ojukwu seemingly out and Destiny Burton not getting many impactful minutes, her size off the bench could be a big factor in some games.

As DavidLittle8 said in the comments after last game, Esther’s role on this isn’t to provide offense, but rather play tough and lock down her defensive assignment [this is my assertion not their’s]. I totally agree, but I still want her to add a little offense to her game and would love to see her follow up her first three pointer in a Gonzaga uniform with another basket or two. It may not happen, but I will still want it because I’m spoiled and I want the Zags to have scoring threats on the floor at all times because I want this team to play like a video game team.

Brynna Maxwell is currently #18 in the nation with her 44.1% three point shooting, but that’s even more impressive considering that she’s taken the second most attempts out of the players above her and third most when expanding that to the top 25 in three percentage. She may be four percentage points lower that last season’s final number, but she’s hoisting up an average of one more three point attempt per game and since the start of conference play, she’s averaging 56% from deep! Keep it up sharpshooter, keep it up.

That’s all I’m going to cover for now as the game starts soon and I’m late posting after traveling across the country. Be sure to tune into ESPN+ tonight at 9pm EST to watch our Zags and hit the comments below for the game thread.