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Gonzaga women ranked school-best 14th in AP Top-25 poll

Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier has her 15-1 Bulldogs ranked 14th _ the highest the GU women have been ranked in their history. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier has her 15-1 Bulldogs ranked 14th _ the highest the GU women have been ranked in their history. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

For the Gonzaga women’s basketball players, Monday morning was spent in sweaty, ignorant bliss.

After two hours of hard practice at the Kennel, the Zags were ready for lunch. They were also served up with the news that they moved up to 14th in this week’s Associated Press Top-25 poll.

That’s the highest spot in program history. Then again, no other GU team has been 15-1.

The Zags are also 4-0 in the West Coast Conference going into their lone game this week, Saturday against visiting Portland.

More good tidings came from the conference, which for the second straight week named senior forward Zykera Rice as its player of the week.

Greeted with the news after practice, coach Lisa Fortier smiled and tried to enjoy a moment that’s more fleeting in her profession than most others.

“I just hope the players are enjoying it a little bit,” Fortier said. “Coaches are always just looking to the next team and what we’re not doing well.”

In Saturday’s 88-65 win over Pacific, that included some poor perimeter defense, too many turnovers and “getting a little casual with our checkouts,” Fortier said.

“We showed them on film where all five players were glancing at the basket, and didn’t look at the Pacific players running past us,” Fortier said.

If that sounds picky, that’s Fortier’s job. “When I look at film and some of the mistakes we’re making, we still have some room for growth,” Fortier said.

The players seemed to take Fortier’s words to heart during Monday’s practice.

“There’s always room for improvement, in every game, any little thing,” said guard Katie Campbell.

“The coaches are always talking to us, don’t look past anyone,” said sophomore Jill Townsend. “We really are trying to take it one game at a time.”

This week it really is just one game. That offers the Zags a chance to regroup, a halftime of sorts with 16 games down and exactly 16 to go if they make it to the WCC tournament title game in Las Vegas on March 12.

Fortier and her staff did just that, giving the players Sunday off after four games in eight days, with another off day later this week.

That doesn’t mean they’re taking the Pilots (6-7 overall, 0-4 in the WCC) lightly. Fortier and her staff made sure of that, pointing out that Portland lost to Pacific by 10 and Saint Mary’s by eight.

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