The Zags are on an eight-game win streak and are undefeated in conference play
With its most recent 79-59 win over Pacific, Gonzaga remains undefeated in conference play. The Bulldogs will head into their weekend matchup against the Portland Pilots at the top of the West Coast Conference and are ranked No. 21 in the country in the latest Associated Press poll.
Back in October, we predicted Gonzaga would win the WCC, with the leadership of 2020 WCC Player of the Year Jill Townsend and the help of younger role players. Well, they are certainly off to a strong start and Townsend has no shortage of support on the court.
Not only did this week’s victory extend the Zags’ win streak to eight games, it saw stellar performances from a number of players – Kaylynne Truong had a career-high nine assists and Jenn Wirth had a career-high and game-high 26 points, finishing 11-of-14 from the floor and bringing in seven rebounds. Melody Kempton and Cierra Walker also put up double-figures with 11 points each.
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Wirth has been a double-double machine so far in both WCC and non-conference play and already needs just one more to match her seven throughout all of last season. Oh, and she’s also tied for second in the country behind Auburn’s Unique Thompson.
The Bulldogs are looking good out of the gate and hopefully they’ll be able to compete in an NCAA Tournament this season, pandemic willing. Right now, the NCAA is hoping for a 64-team bracket that will happen in one location. But if COVID continues to be an issue for scheduling and getting games in, there’s a chance the NCAA could be forced to cancel the tournament again or cut it down to a 16-team bracket. In that case, Gonzaga would have to be near perfect to make the cut.
As we know, nothing is set in stone in the world of sports right now, but these athletes are just thankful to be out on the court when they can.
“This season has given us a lot of obstacles,” Wirth said last weekend. “We get to practice and play here every day, and we’re grateful for that.”
West Coast Conference Updates
Speaking of scheduling challenges, Pepperdine has put its season on hold due to COVID-19 protocols. The Wave postponed their Jan. 2-9 games and are working with the WCC and their opponents to reschedule those games.
Santa Clara has experienced similar pandemic-related woes and won’t play a home game until Jan. 14, after the public health order expires. However, a potential renewal of the order could force the Broncos to be adaptable for a while longer.
Loyola Marymount has seemed to bounce back after some tough pre-season games. The Lions are now 2-2 in conference play and will take on the third-place BYU Cougars on Thursday.
Meanwhile, BYU’s Lauren Gustin also has a knack for double-doubles and has posted five in seven games. Her average line also includes a conference-best 12.4 rebounds per game. The Cougars will travel to Los Angeles to face Loyola Marymount Thursday Jan. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Gonzaga will host second-place Portland Saturday afternoon.