As many of their fans hoped, the Zags will travel to Seattle to play sixth-seeded Oklahoma at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on the University of Washington campus. Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference tournament last week.
SPOKANE – The Gonzaga women’s basketball team is planning to make some more memories in the NCAA tournament.
And the Zags won’t need to travel far to make them happen.
As many of their fans hoped, the 11th-seeded Zags will travel to Seattle to play sixth-seeded Oklahoma at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on the campus of the University of Washington.
Coach: Sherri Coale, in her 21st season at Oklahoma, where she is 464-226.
Credentials: Ranked No. 23 in the nation. ... Finished third in the Big 12. ... Defeated two teams in the top 25 when they played, including a 74-73 victory over No. 8 Texas.
Strong point: The Sooners are balanced, with six players averaging at least 7.1 points, and 10 players have started games.
Trouble spot: Lost their past two games, to Baylor and West Virginia, by a combined 63 points.
Top players: Maddie Manning, a 6-2 senior guard, leads team in scoring at 12.7 points per game, and shoots 41.3 percent from three-point range. Vionise Pierre-Louis, a 6-4 junior center, is third on team in scoring at 11.9 a game, first in rebounding at 7.9 and second in blocked shots, with 58 total.
Notable: Team has been to three Final Fours, in 2002, 2009 and 2010, losing in the final in 2002 and losing in the semis in 2009 and 2010.
Coach: Lisa Fortier, third season, with a 71-28 record.
Credentials: Was the West Coast Conference regular-season champion and then won the conference tournament. ... Won 68-63 at Pac-12 champion Stanford.
Strong point: The Zags play great defense, allowing 57.8 points per game, and opponents are shooting 36.2 percent from the field.
Trouble spot: The Zags shot 40.3 percent in WCC play.
Top players: Jill Barta, a 6-3 sophomore forward, leads team in scoring at 16.9 points per game and is second in rebounding at 6.0. Kiara Kudron, a 6-2 senior forward, is second in scoring at 10.0 and first in rebounding at 7.8.
Notable: In Fortier’s first season at Gonzaga, it reached the Sweet 16, where it lost to Tennessee in overtime.
The Zags are 3-1 in NCAA tournament games played in Seattle.
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“Some people like to say that whenever we play in the state, you’re playing at home,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said.
Gonzaga, 26-6 and the winner of the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles, is back in the NCAA tournament after a year absence.
Two years ago, Gonzaga reached the NCAAs as an at-large team, then made the most of its situation by reaching the Sweet 16.
This year, Gonzaga seemingly is peaking at the right time. In Las Vegas, it defeated three WCC opponents by an average 23 points to take the tourney title.
“This is how you want it to happen – you want to play your best right now and we did in Las Vegas,” Fortier said.
Then it was time for her to prepare for Oklahoma.
“I have a venti coffee on my desk, so I’ll be here as long as that will last me,” Fortier said.