#38 Gonzaga Women's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast
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Under Coach Lisa Fortier, Gonzaga has reached the NCAA Tournament three times in the last four years. Last year the Bulldogs finished 17-1 in West Coast Conference play and cruised through the conference tournament to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Once there, Gonzaga was matched up with a tough game at Stanford where they lost 82-68. The big difference this season will be the absence of Jill Barta. She has been a huge part of every season during Coach Fortier’s tenure and averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds during her senior campaign.
2017-18 Record: 27-6, 17-1
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lisa Fortier
Coach Record: 98-35 at Gonzaga, 98-35 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Jill Barta, Forward, 18.8 ppg
Emma Stach, Guard, 7.5 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Zykera Rice, Senior, Forward, 11.7 ppg
Chandler Smith, Senior, Guard, 9.4 ppg
Laura Stockton, Senior, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Jessie Loera, Junior, Guard, 6.2 ppg
Jenn Wirth, Sophomore, Forward, 4.6 ppg
Jill Townsend, Sophomore, Guard, 4.2 ppg
LeeAnne Wirth, Sophomore, Forward, 3.5 ppg
Katie Campbell, Junior, Guard, 1.7 ppg
Louise Forsyth, Sophomore, Guard, 0.8 ppg
Key New Players
Kylee Griffen, Freshman, Guard
Melody Kempton, Freshman, Forward
Anamaria Virjoghe, Sophomore, Forward, JC Transfer
Barta will be difficult to replace, but Gonzaga does return eight players who were in the regular rotation last season, including three starters. The frontcourt will now be led by Zykera Rice, a 6-1 senior who averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds last season. Jenn Wirth and LeeAnne Wirth showed potential as freshmen. Both are 6-3 and Gonzaga has a couple of very dangerous post players who should start dominating the paint sooner than later. The frontcourt also adds junior college transfer Anamaria Virjoghe and highly touted freshman Melody Kempton. The backcourt brings in a highly touted freshman as well in wing Kylee Griffen. There are plenty of more experienced options too. Chandler Smith averaged 9.4 points per game last season and fellow senior Laura Stockton added 6.6 points per game and a team high 3.8 assists. Jessie Loera is also a very good ball handler and could slide into the starting lineup this year if Coach Fortier wants a couple proven ball handlers on the floor. However, this group is not very good when it comes to outside shooting and that is something the newcomers may need to add if Gonzaga is going to dominate the WCC as much as they did last season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.3 (53rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.5 (58, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.6 (50, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 37,4 (47, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.8 (257, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 29.4 (261, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.7 (69, 2)
Rebound Margin: 4.3 (72, 3)
Assists Per Game:14.3 (110, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (58, 1)
Madness 2018 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#72 Kylee Griffen
#144 Melody Kempton