LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga has seen plenty of Sydney Williams over the past four years. Granted, not nearly as much as the San Diego senior has seen of the Zags over the course of the past 22.
Williams’ family in Coeur d’Alene has long admired the hoops powerhouse in Spokane. Her grandparents have GU season tickets, and the Zags have been a staple in her life for as long as she can remember – long, long before she saw them on a biannual basis as a top player for a WCC rival.
“It’s kind of hard playing against the Zags when your family, your grandparents are season ticketholders,” USD coach Cindy Fisher said. “There’s a lot of Zag energy in that family.”
So it would’ve been sweet for Williams to carry the sixth-seeded Toreros past the top-seeded Zags for a WCC championship Saturday at the Orleans Arena. That storyline wasn’t in the cards, but the Coeur d’Alene High grad carried the Toreros through a 79-71 loss to the Bulldogs.
Williams was the game’s top scorer after one quarter and was a load for the Zags through the next three, scoring 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting in what could have been her final college game.
“I think the great thing about Sydney is she’s going to give you everything she can every time when she steps out there,” Fisher said. “She’s had a stellar, stellar career at USD. She’s been our starting five here for three years now, and she’s just gotten better every year, and she’s been a big impact for us.”
Since leading the CdA Vikings to a 2014 5A State title, Williams has appeared in 124 of 126 games for USD, starting nine of those. She’s averaged better than nine points per game in three of them, and closed the WCC Tournament with back-to-back 20-point games.
Against GU, she demonstrated an arsenal of offensive weapons, taking the Zags to the basket, leaking out on screens for midrange shots and occasionally stretching out to the 3-point arc. Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to trim the Zags’ lead to 75-69.
“A pick-and-pop post player is like gold, especially when you have drivers around her like they have,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said. “She’s difficult and I just think this year especially, she was a bear. It was a tough matchup for us.
“We had plans not to let her shoot perimeter shots and pressure her and she just kind of finds a way.
“She’s very hard-working, and I thought she continued to improve and improve and improve. She’s going to be missed because she’s a really good player.”
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