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Gonzaga women start second half of WCC campaign with tough trips to Pacific, Saint Mary’s

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 30, 2019, 7:16 p.m.

Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier and the bench celebrate a basket by Jill Townsend against Santa Clara  on Jan 26,  in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier and the bench celebrate a basket by Jill Townsend against Santa Clara on Jan 26, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Halfway through the West Coast Conference basketball season, the Gonzaga women have seen every team and know them well.

Or do they?

The last time the Zags saw Pacific, it was in their rear-view mirror in an 88-65 win at the Kennel. Three weeks later, the Tigers are back on GU’s tail in the WCC standings going into Thursday night’s crucial game in Stockton, California.

“They’re playing pretty well right now,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said after Tuesday’s practice, a longer-than-usual affair that stressed the little things.

“We need to continue to improve on executing, timing and spacing,” Fortier said. “You let some things go earlier in the year, but now (opponents) know you what your plan of attack is going to be against them.”

“We’re also playing a little too much one-on-one defense, which is not the strength of this team,” Fortier said.

The Zags (19-2 overall and 8-1 in the WCC) are ranked 15th in the country, but face their biggest road trip of the season this week at Pacific and Saint Mary’s. Both teams are 6-3 in league play.

A road sweep would put GUat least three games up on the field (excluding league-leader BYU) in the race for second place and a bye into the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Since the Jan. 17 loss at BYU, the Zags have won three straight. However, Pacific has taken four of its last five behind sophomore forward Brooklyn McDavid.

In winning her second straight player of the week honors, McDavid averaged a double-double with 18.5 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field.

She’ll match up at times with GU senior Zykera Rice, who won the award the two previous weeks.

Pacific leads the WCC in steals with (10.3 per game) and turnover margin (plus 3.7).

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