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Opportunity to rise in rankings awaits Gonzaga women ahead of visit to San Francisco

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 17, 2020

Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier talks with her players during a timeout in a  game against BYU, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (Isaac Hale / AP)
Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier talks with her players during a timeout in a game against BYU, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (Isaac Hale / AP)

Another big opportunity awaits the Gonzaga women this weekend in San Francisco.

They’ve already made some history on their annual trip the Bay Area. After a 67-52 win at Santa Clara on Thursday, the Zags are off to a 17-1 start, the best in school history.

If a few more dominoes fall, they also could have one of the highest rankings in school history.

Currently 16th in the Associated Press, the Zags will certainly move up after No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 13 Florida State and No. 15 Indiana lost on Thursday night.

GU’s all-time highest AP ranking is 12th, before last year’s West Coast Conference Tournament. That team finished 16th after reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Like that squad, this one is taking care of business against WCC foes. In the last two-plus seasons, coach Lisa Fortier is 49-3 in conference play going into Saturday’s 5 p.m. tipoff against last-place USF.

“Road games in the WCC are tough and we try to control what we can,” Fortier said.

The Zags are again winning with defense. Up by three after one quarter at Santa Clara, the Zags held the Broncos without a field goal for the next 6 minutes to build a 40-30 halftime lead.

For the game, GU outrebounded the Broncos 43-26.

“I thought our team did a really good job competing on the glass tonight,” Fortier said. “That was a big focus for us and it is great to see them come out and get the job done in that area.

“When we take care of the ball, hit the glass and make free throws, we put ourselves in a great position to be successful.”

USF was positioned Thursday night to get its first conference win. The Dons (7-11, 0-6) led Portland by as many as six in the third quarter, but an illness-depleted roster faded down the stretch as the Pilots won 73-66.

Lucie Hoskova leads the Dons in scoring at 15.3 points per game shooting 49.1% from the floor. Hoskova’s shooting percentage ranks eighth in the WCC. Mikayla Williams adds 14.4 points per game, shooting 45.2% from the floor.

Sophomore forward Leila Vigil, who’s only 5-foot-10, averages a double-double with 10.2 points and 10.1 rebounds.

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