The start of the New Year also offers the Gonzaga women a chance to finish off some old business against Saint Mary’s.
It’s been almost a year since the Zags lost to a West Coast Conference opponent, namely those same Gaels who visit the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday night.
Likewise, this is a different GU team, but the scenario couldn’t be more similar: The Zags (13-1 overall, 2-0 WCC) are ranked 17th and riding a nine-game winning streak going into Thursday night’s contest.
Ranked for the fourth straight week, GU is coming off a pair of 25-point wins in Southern California. The Zags opened conference play by breaking open a tight game in the fourth quarter to beat Loyola Marymount 78-54. Two days later at Pepperdine, GU used a big third quarter to pull away from the Waves, 78-53.
Senior forward Zykera Rice led the way in both games. At LMU, she had 15 points and eight rebounds in just 24 minutes on the court. At Pepperdine, she finished with a career-high 23 points that also included a program-record 11-for-12 (91.7 percent) shooting effort.
Saint Mary’s (7-5, 0-1) has beaten Washington State, Wyoming, Milwaukee, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Texas State and Old Dominion while narrowly losing an overtime game to then-No. 13 Cal, 81-78.
Saint Mary’s averages 73.7 points per game while shooting a league-leading 47.6 percent from the floor.
The Gaels average 39.8 rebounds per game with a plus-5.8 rebounding margin while leading the league in assists with 17.3 per game.
SMC’s 17.3 assists per game also ranks 31st nationally.
Gonzaga counters with a plus-6.6 rebounding average and 43 percent field-goal shooting.
In contrast to last year, the Zags are shooting well – 36.4 percent – from long range. Sophomore guard Katie Campbell is 30 for 60 from long range, good enough to lead the WCC and rank third in the nation.
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