Posted on August 22, 2014 at 7:29 PM
SPOKANE – A pair of NCAA Tournament participants from last spring highlight another strong non-conference women’s basketball schedule first-year head coach Lisa Fortier has assembled.
The University of Dayton and the University of Iowa joined Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament field a year ago.
Fortier put the finishing touches on the schedule after being promoted to head coach following the departure of head coach Kelly Graves last spring for a similar position at the University of Oregon.
“A lot of the dates were in place but we still had about six games to fill,” Fortier said of completing the schedule. “I think it’s a tough schedule, but a good schedule.”
The Bulldogs will open the regular season against the Flyers of Dayton Nov. 16 in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Coached by highly-respected Jim Jabir in his 12th season as the first male head women’s basketball coach in program history, Dayton went 23-7 a year ago and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Flyers are the two-time Atlantic-10 Conference regular-season champions and lost in the championship game of the A-10 tourney last spring.
“They are a very good, well-coached team,” Fortier said. “They have a lot of returning players, as do a lot of the schools on our schedule.”
The Zags will square off against Iowa Nov. 29 on the second night of the South Point Shootout at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. Iowa went 26-8 a year ago and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs will meet American University to open the Shootout Nov. 28.
“We know Las Vegas even though the games will be on a neutral court we haven’t seen,” Fortier said of playing at South Point Arena. The West Coast Conference holds its tournament at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga will meet a pair of Northwest rivals at home when Portland State University visits Dec. 7 and Washington State University comes to town two days later. The Portland State coaching staff includes former Bulldog player, assistant coach and former Santa Clara University head coach Jennifer Mountain.
“Portland State is always tough and it’s always good to see Jennifer. Washington State is really improved, has some outstanding players and a veteran coach,” Fortier said.
Gonzaga will also play Idaho State University at home Nov. 18, travel to Montana State University Nov. 21, play, at the University of Wyoming Dec. 12, travel to Northwestern University Dec. 15 and entertain Southern Utah University Dec. 20 to round out the non-conference slate prior to the start of West Coast Conference play. The Bulldogs will have one home exhibition game Nov. 2 against Eastern Oregon University.
“It’s a tough schedule but I think we have the players who can play that type of schedule,” Fortier said. “We return a strong nucleus of players led by All-WCC selection Sunny Greinacher. Those veterans will help carry us through the tough early-season schedule and provide great leadership to help our younger players develop as we prepare for another tough WCC schedule.”
The WCC schedule was announced last week. The Bulldogs are the 10-time regular-season WCC champions and have won six of the last seven WCC Tournament titles.