The Gonzaga women have taken nothing for granted, and don’t plan to start now.
“It feels like it’s finally happened,” senior Jill Townsend said Monday after the Zags earned a No. 5 seed and a date with 12th-seeded Belmont next week in the NCAA tournament.
The Zags will face the Ohio Valley Conference champion Bruins (20-5) on Monday at 1 p.m. PDT on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, which is located about 50 miles northeast of San Antonio.
The game will be televised on ESPNU.
The Zags are scheduled to fly to Texas on Tuesday morning.
If they win, the Zags will face No. 4 seed Indiana or No. 13 seed Virginia Commonwealth in a second-round game in San Antonio on March 23 or 24.
North Carolina State is the top-seeded team in GU’s bracket, the Mercado Region, named for the historic market square in downtown San Antonio.
This will be the first NCAA tournament in three years for Townsend, who was injured when the Zags reached the second round at Oregon State in 2019.
The Zags’ postseason was wiped out last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued to affect the game a year later.
“There were times when I didn’t know if the season would happen,” Townsend said after the bracket reveal. “But now to say that we’re here at the end with an incredible group of players, it feels great.”
Even better, the Zags are going into the tournament with a 23-3 record and the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
They also enter the tournament with 21 wins in their past 22 games, including a last-second win over Brigham Young in the WCC title game. ESPN was so impressed that it led the bracket reveal show with highlights that included the Zags’ celebrating Townsend’s last-second game-winner.
Since then, the Zags have practiced and waited, rinse and repeat. One session included coaches against players, head coach Lisa Fortier excluded.
“We’re just beating each other up,” Fortier said. “But we didn’t waste our time.”
Townsend said the layoff came at a good time, considering several players – including herself – were recovering from stomach flu.
“We got our butts kicked from getting sick, so it was great to get home and relax a little,” Townsend said.
The tournament begins Sunday with first-round games at the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena and UTSA Convocation Center in San Antonio; the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas in Austin; and the University Events Center at Texas State University in San Marcos.
The rest of the tournament will be contested only in San Antonio.
Only family members of players and coaches will be allowed to watch the first two rounds in person, with each member of the 34-member official team travel party allowed up to six tickets for guests.