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Gonzaga women move up to 13th in AP poll

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 20, 2020

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward LeeAnne Wirth (4) and forward Jenn Wirth (3) laugh between possessions with guard Jessie Loera (15) during the first half of a college basketball game on Thursday, January 9, 2020, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward LeeAnne Wirth (4) and forward Jenn Wirth (3) laugh between possessions with guard Jessie Loera (15) during the first half of a college basketball game on Thursday, January 9, 2020, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Gonzaga women moved up three spots to 13th in this week’s Associated Press poll, just one notch below the program high of last year’s team.

After sitting at 16th for two weeks, the Zags got some help when No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 13 Florida State and No. 15 Indiana lost on Thursday night.

Then the Zags took care of business with a road sweep of West Coast Conference rivals Santa Clara and San Francisco.

In Monday’s poll, the Zags are 12 points behind No. 12 Kentucky, which fell from 11th after splitting two games; and eight points ahead of FSU, which lost by 17 at No. 8 North Carolina State.

Gonzaga was 13th in last week’s USA Today Coaches Poll.

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 dominating WCC foes. In the last two-plus seasons, coach Lisa Fortier is 52-3 in conference play going into this week’s home stand against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.

GU is 7-0 in WCC play and 18-1 overall, the best 19-game start in program history.

However, because the WCC ranks only 11th in conference Rating Percentage Index (RPI), moving up further in the polls is more dependent on losses by higher-ranked teams from Power 5 Conferences.

Besides fellow mid-major DePaul (currently 11th), the Zags are looking up at No. 12 Kentucky, No. 10 UCLA and No. 9 Mississippi State.

More important is GU’s RPI. Currently the Zags rank ninth, putting them in strong position to host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.

In his latest prediction, ESPN bracketologist Charlie Crème has GU as a No. 3 seed, hosting Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis.

South Carolina sits atop the AP poll for the second straight week, with Baylor in second place. The Gamecocks received 22 first-place votes from a 30-member media panel Monday. The Lady Bears got six.

UConn moved up to third after previous No. 3 Stanford lost to Oregon by 32 points. The Ducks moved up to No. 4. Louisville was fifth, sandwiched between Oregon and Stanford. Louisville received the other two first-place votes.

Oregon State, North Carolina State, Mississippi State and UCLA rounded out the top 10.

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