Athletic director Mike Roth ‘pretty much on cloud nine’ after women’s team joins men’s in regional semifinals with upset victory at Oregon State.
For an athletic director, it doesn’t get much better than it did Sunday for Mike Roth of Gonzaga.
In Seattle to watch the GU men’s team throttle Iowa, 87-68, Roth kept close tabs on the Zag women, who shocked Pac-12 champion Oregon State in Corvallis, 76-64, to make it a matching set of Sweet 16 teams. It’s the first time in school history both programs have made it in the same year.
“I’m pretty much on cloud nine about it,” Roth said outside the GU locker room at KeyArena.
“As impressive as what our guys did out here tonight — and we put together a great game on both ends of the floor — for our ladies to go on the road and win … that might be our best road win ever in women’s basketball. You can’t look at it as an NCAA-tournament win; our NCAA tournament wins, let’s face it, have all been in Spokane.”
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Indeed, it was an unlikely breakthrough for the GU women, who now get to go home to Spokane for the regional weekend. They lost in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals to Brigham Young, losing a 12-point second-half lead, and had to sweat out selections but made it as an at-large No. 11 seed.
Referring to first-year head coach Lisa Fortier, Roth said, “As great a job as Mark did tonight, Lisa did as great a job down there.”
Wiltjer eats up Iowa
Zag forward Kyle Wiltjer lit up the Hawkeyes for 24 points and kidded that he and his teammates had extra motivation.
“We were going to dinner last night and we passed one of my favorite restaurants, Benihana, and we’re going to a burger joint,” he said. “So I was like, ‘Coach, we should go to Benihana.’ And one of our assistants said, ‘Hey, if you get the win (against Iowa), we’ll go to Benihana in Houston. So I’m hyped.”
• Few said he was most happy for backcourt seniors Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos, noting that most of the four-year groups that have come through Gonzaga have made it to the Sweet 16.
“I really wanted them to experience this,” said Few. “All the other groups that have been through have experienced this.”
• Saturday, Gonzaga’s 6-5 Byron Wesley expressed confidence that the Zags could guard the big Iowa front line, even as it seemed to be a matchup problem. It turned out he was the one who had a lot of All-Big Ten forward Aaron White, whom he called “a really good player. It was a team effort. We did a really good job of making it tough for him.”
• The Zags lick their chops when teams single-cover Przemek Karnowski and Domas Sabonis inside, and that was Iowa’s approach. “I thought they were going to struggle to guard us man-to-man,” said GU assistant Tommy Lloyd. “I knew going into the game we were going to have good matchups.”