The 4th seeded Oregon State Beavers Women’s Basketball team takes on the 5th seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second round of the the NCAA Tournament at Gill Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 6:00 PM PST on Monday, March 25th. Watch on ESPN2 or check out the team’s Twitter page for ways to follow along live. Let’s take a closer look at the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga (#16 AP, 29-4 overall, 16-2 West Coast Conference)
Last season: 27-6 overall, 17-1 in WCC (1st), lost in first round of NCAA Tournament
The 5th seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs come into the second round of the NCAA Tournament fresh off a win over 12th seeded University of Arkansas-Little Rock, 68-51. The Zags finished the regular season as the #16 team in the country after finishing first in the West Coast Conference. They have just four losses on the season, all respectable. In fact, they have lost to just two teams, #3 Notre Dame, and Brigham Young. BYU, who was receiving votes in the last AP Poll, must have the Zags’ number because they are responsible for three of those losses, including the conference tournament finals.
Unfortunately for Gonzaga, they will be without two of their best players in Jill Townsend and All-WCC First Team selection Laura Stockton (if you’re thinking, “daughter of John Stockton?”, then yes, you’re right). Both players suffered leg injuries in the WCC Tournament Semifinal against St. Mary’s on March 11th. That has left Gonzaga scrambling on how to configure their backcourt rotation as they usually rotate regularly with eight players on the roster averaging more than 20 minutes a game.
In their first round matchup against UA-Little Rock, it appears that Head Coach Lisa Fortier found a way to make it work. Now in her fifth year at the helm, Fortier has won West Coast Conference Coach of the Year four times, so of course she found a way to win with a hobbled team. Her team ranked first in WCC for scoring defense, scoring margin, three-point percentage, and assist to turnover ratio.
Who to watch
#00 - Zykera Rice, Senior Forward
You won’t have a hard time spotting the All-WCC First Team member Rice on the court, she’ll be the one with the fabulous blue hair. The Zags leading scorer and rebounder at 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game powered the Bulldogs past Arkansas-Little Rock with 18 points.
#24 - Katie Campbell, Junior Guard
Campbell is the Zags most deadly option from behind the arc, have made 63 threes at 46% shooting. She complemented the interior scoring of Rice with her long range shot, hitting 5-of-6 three-pointers against Arkansas-Little Rock.
#15 - Jessie Loera, Junior Guard
With the injury to Stockton, the facilitation duties appear to have mostly fallen onto Loera’s shoulders. In the last three games, she has averaged six assists per game while her minutes have increased from 23.1 to 34.7. Don’t expect her to take much breathers.
I thought Oregon State would have found their three-point shot in the last game and win comfortably against Boise State. Wrong again, Leo. Goodman seemed to be the only one to find her range. We’ll have another close one if the Beavers are still cold as a team from distance. Then someone will have to contain Rice, which will likely drain from their offensive contribution. Beavers win another back-and-forth contest and push on to the Sweet 16.