TRACKING THE ZAGS
By Sabrina Jones
Here we go again. The No. 7-seed Lady Zags, guaranteed to be among the coveted 64 teams in the NCAA Women’s Tournament after winning the West Coast Conference Tournament, return to Seattle and the Bank of America Arena at the University of Washington to take on the No. 10-seed North Carolina Tar Heels at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Tar Heels, who received an at-large berth, enter the Tournament with a 19-11 record while with the Lady Zags, regular-season champions of the WCC, sport a 27-4 mark. Regardless of standings, however, players and coaches both know the key to tournament success is preparation.
“Their tradition is great at UNC,” said said Zags’ Coach Kelly Graves. “They’re used to going to Sweet Sixteens, Elite Eights and Final Fours, and they’ve won national championships. But I think that our experience and our depth will serve us well.”
“We do know that UNC is a very storied team,” said senior forward Heather Bowman. “They’ve done very well in women’s basketball, so that’s very exciting. And then seeing Texas A&M in the same bracket was good motivation, but obviously we’re not going to look past North Carolina.”
The Lady Zags played Texas A&M during the regular season at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic, losing by just 4 points, 80-76.
The Zags enter the NCAA Tournament ranked 14th in the ESPN/USA Today poll, and riding an 18-game winning streak plus back-to-back WCC championships the past two years (three overall).
The winner will play the winner of the 5 p.m. contest Saturday pitting Big 12 Tournament Champion Texas A&M, seeded No. 2, against Big Sky Conference champion Portland State, seeded No. 15. The two winners will face off Monday for a ticket to the Sacramento Regional. Tickets to the games at the Bank of America Arena are $21 per session and go on sale to the public starting at noon today (Tuesday) by calling the Gonzaga Ticket Office at (509) 313-6000.