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Gonzaga women picked to repeat as West Coast Conference champions

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 17, 2018, 6:52 p.m.

Gonzaga guards Laura Stockton, left, and Chandler Smith, right, plus forward Zykera Rice, were named Wednesday to the preseason All-West Coast Conference preseason team. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guards Laura Stockton, left, and Chandler Smith, right, plus forward Zykera Rice, were named Wednesday to the preseason All-West Coast Conference preseason team. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

There’s a lot to like about this year’s Gonzaga women’s basketball team. The Zags are deep, experienced and savvy.

“And we’re skilled,” said coach Lisa Fortier, who led GU to a 27-6 overall record last year.

It’s no surprise, then, that for the sixth consecutive season, the Zags are the preseason favorite to win the West Coast Conference title.

In a coaches’ poll announced Wednesday, GU received seven of 10 first-place votes and 79 overall. Saint Mary’s was second, with two first-place votes and 73 overall.

Coaches are not allowed to vote for their teams.

GU also placed its three senior captains – Zykera Rice, Chandler Smith and Laura Stockton – on the 10-player preseason all-star team.

This is the first preseason All-WCC pick for Smith, who was named All-WCC second team a season ago. Last season, she started all 33 games for the Bulldogs, averaging 9.4 points per contest to rank third on the squad, along with 5.7 rebounds.

She also led Gonzaga and ranked fifth in the league with 1.9 steals per game, and scored in doubles figures 14 times with three double-doubles and two near triple-doubles.

Rice, another second-team pick last year, is preseason All-WCC for the first time after scoring 11.7 points last season.

Rice also led the Bulldogs with a 49.7 shooting average that ranked sixth in the WCC and seventh in GU history. She also averaged 5.2 rebounds.

Stockton is a preseason pick for the second consecutive year after averaging 6.6 points and a team-high 3.6 assists. Going into her senior season, Stockton ranks seventh in program history with 335 assists.

Last year, Gonzaga advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in program history. The Bulldogs are 193-27 (.877) in conference play during the past 14 years, including 13 WCC regular-season titles and seven WCC Tournament championships.

Gonzaga begins its season with an exhibition game against Montana’s Carroll College on Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

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