Emotions are sure to flow Saturday afternoon at the McCarthey Athletic Center as the Gonzaga women celebrate Senior Day.
Their first job against Santa Clara, however, will be to restore some offensive flow in their half-court offense, something that’s been lacking after guard Katie Campbell was lost to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago.
The 15th-ranked Zags are 2-1 since then, but shooting percentages are down across the board.
Going into that stretch against Pacific, Saint Mary’s and USF, the Zags were hitting 46% from the field and 40.5% from long range. In those contests, accuracy dropped to 42% and 34%, respectively.
That’s been partially offset by a drop in turnovers – from 54 in the previous three games to 33 in the last three – but the offense has struggled without the threat of Campbell’s outside shooting.
Strong defense has been a fixture before and after Campbell’s injury, though her “peskiness,” as GU head coach Lisa Fortier called it, has been missed.
In the last eight games, only Saint Mary’s has shot better than 40% from the field.
“Defense is what drives our offense,” GU senior guard Jessie Loera said Thursday night after a 56-38 win over USF that improved their record to 24-2 overall and 13-1 in the West Coast Conference.
“I think our defense really showed in this game.”
If it does so again and the Zags prevail, they’ll clinch at least a share of the WCC regular-season title with three games remaining.
GU will be a heavy favorite against the Broncos (9-15, 3-10), who have lost nine of their last 10 and are coming off a 22-point loss Thursday night at Portland.
In the first meeting at Santa Clara on Jan. 16, the Zags won 67-52 while dominating the boards 43-26.
Santa Clara is led by senior guard Tia Hay, who averages 12.7 points a game, and junior forward Ashlyn Herlihy (10.3 ppg and 7.5 rpg).
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