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Gonzaga women move up to 11th in AP poll

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jill Townsend, shown holding the WCC trophy on Feb. 11, scored 31 points in the Zags’ wins last weekend at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jill Townsend, shown holding the WCC trophy on Feb. 11, scored 31 points in the Zags’ wins last weekend at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

In every way, the Gonzaga women are back on track.

Fresh from a road sweep in Los Angeles, the Zags are also back at 11th in this week’s Associated Press poll – the same position they held before losing at Saint Mary’s two weeks earlier.

And with one game left in the regular season, GU is still on course to earn home-court advantage in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

That’s because the Zags managed to put together good games on both ends of the court last week in wins at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.

“We had stretches in the game where we were really good offensively and where we were really good defensively,” Coach Lisa Fortier said Saturday, after the 64-50 win at Pepperdine.

“During the third quarter, we put them both together, and that was the difference in the game,” Fortier said.

The Zags also put together a stellar shooting effort from long range, going 8-for-18. That moved their season average to 39.7%, second in the nation behind Baylor as of Monday.

Of course, the AP ranking is more important. Three weeks ago the Zags hit a program-best 11th after beating BYU. However that win came at a huge price in the loss of senior guard Katie Campbell.

A week later, they lost at Saint Mary’s and dropped to 15th in the poll. They moved up to 13th last week thanks to some upsets in Power 5 conference play, and got more help last weekend as No. 11 Arizona and No. 12 DePaul both lost to unranked teams.

Provided they take care of business on Saturday at Portland, the Zags (27-2 overall and 16-1 in the WCC) could make some history this week and break into the top 10. That would require some help from the Arkansas Razorbacks, who are at No. 10 Texas A&M on Thursday.

The Zags are also in strong position in the Rating Percentage Index, where they sit 12th after falling to 14th at one point last week.

RPI is probably the best indicator of where the Zags fall in the NCAA’s pecking order, and that was duly reflected in ESPN bracketologist Charley Crème’s prediction last week; Crème had GU as a No. 4 seed in the Greenville (S.C.) Regional, hosting Fresno State in a first-round game.

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