Stanford Highlights GU's Non-Conference Schedule - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Stanford Highlights GU's Non-Conference Schedule

SPOKANE, Wash. – Nine of the 13 non-conference teams on the 2011-12 women's basketball schedule made a splash in the post-season a year ago, including five who participated in the NCAA Tournament. Those 13 teams on the Bulldogs' slate also combined to put together a winning percentage of 57.4 as they posted 244 wins in 425 games last season.

"Overall this is an extremely challenging schedule," said Graves. "With nine of the 13 teams going to post-season last year it may be as tough a non-conference schedule as we have ever had. But if we want to be considered among the best programs in the nation this is the schedule we have to play."

Seven home games dot schedule, along with one in-season tournament and four other road contests.

Despite having only four true road contests, they all come in the first six games of the season.

"The opening stretch is a real chance for us to test ourselves," stated Graves of the four road games early. "We are young, having 11 underclassmen; it will give us an opportunity to get out on the road and bound as a team. That being said, we are going to need great leadership from our seniors because college basketball on the road can be tough for young kids. But I wanted us to be tested early on the road."

Gonzaga opens its slate at home against Hofstra University, members of the Colonial Athletic Association who finished 19-12 overall and 10-8 in conference a season ago, on Friday, Nov. 11, before hitting the road for four of the next five.

And what a test the Zags first road contest is – Stanford University. The Bulldogs, who played the 2011 NCAA Tournament Final Four participant twice a season ago, including in the Elite Eight, head to the 10th-straight Pacific-10 (now Pacific-12) Champions on Sunday, Nov. 13.

"Playing Stanford gives us a chance to play at the very highest level," explained Graves. "Stanford is a program we are chasing and over the last few years we have been the best two programs on the West Coast. Obviously, Stanford is a program by which everybody on the West is judged and it will let us know early in the season where we are strong and where we are weak."

Gonzaga will then play at the University of Idaho on Thursday, Nov. 17 before hosting Portland State University 10 days later on Sunday, Nov. 27. Idaho participated in the Women's Basketball Invitational in 2011 after closing out the year 15-16, while Portland State played in the WNIT in 2011 after making the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

The Bulldogs final two road contests before a four-game homestand are at Washington State University, Wednesday, Nov. 30 and at Cal State Fullerton, Friday, Dec. 2. Gonzaga will play at Friel Court, on the campus of WSU, for the first time in 10 years and at Titan Gym, on the campus of CS Fullerton, for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.

The four-game December homestand begins Sunday, Dec. 4 against the University of Southern California; who had a 24-13 overall mark last season and fell in the championship contest of the WNIT. The three other games are Eastern Washington University, Friday, Dec. 9; University of Montana, Sunday, Dec. 11; and UC Riverside, Saturday, Dec. 17.

"I think playing at home in December is always good," explained Graves. "There is so much going on academically, with finals, being at home helps. Playing wise, it will be a tough stretch. We begin the month with USC who I think is a dark horse to go far in the NCAA Tournament this year. We also have the traditional rivals of Montana and Eastern Washington, along with UC Riverside, who has gone to the NCAA Tournament three of the last six years."

The final three non-conference games of the season for the Zags are all against 2011 NCAA Tournament participants.

Gonzaga will play at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic for the second-time in three years. The tournament is set for Dec. 19-21. The Bulldogs open the classic, to be held at South Point Arena, against the University of Georgia, Sunday, Dec. 19. Georgia is a member of the Southeastern Conference, finished 23-11 overall in 2011 and had its season end in the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen. The Bulldogs final game of the tournament is set for Tuesday, Dec. 21 against Atlantic-10 member Dayton University. The Flyers finished 21-12 a year ago and played in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history.

"The Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic has a great field that will really test us," stated Graves. "We typically have played nationally recognized teams going into conference play and we are doing it again this year. Georgia is a national power and Dayton is a team I can easily see go into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament."

The final non-conference contest of the season is set for Sunday, Jan. 1. The Bulldogs will host Northeast Conference member St. Francis (Pa.) who won their league for the 11th time in school history and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament last season.  

Gonzaga will warm-up to the non-conference schedule with an exhibition contest against Corban University, Nov. 5 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

                   Gonzaga University Women's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule


5 – Corban (EXH), 6 p.m.; 11 – Hofstra, TBA; 13 – at Stanford, 2 p.m.; 17 – at Idaho, 6 p.m.; 27 – Portland State, 2 p.m.; Nov. 30 – at Washington State, TBA


2 – at Cal State Fullerton, 7 p.m.; 4 – USC, 2 p.m.; 9 – Eastern Washington, 6 p.m.; 11 – Montana, 2 p.m.; 17 – UC Riverside, 6 p.m.; 19 -  vs. Georgia (Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic), 3:30 p.m.; 21 – vs. Dayton (Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic), 1 p.m.


1 – Saint Francis (PA), TBA

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