Fan Fest flashes new-look Zags

Gonzaga fans got their first look at the women's basketball team during Fan Fest at the Kennel.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Gonzaga women's basketball team showed a lot of new faces, and some familiar ones as well, and put on quite a show in front of a large crowd at the annual Fan Fest inside the McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday.

Fans got their first look at the 2016-17 Zags with festivities on the court, including an intrasquad scrimmage. The Zags played a quartet of five-minute periods, with the second half running clock.

Gonzaga fans got their faces painted, collected their 2016-17 posters and schedule cards, got a chance to get their season ticket packages, and got their photos taken at a photo booth. On the court, fans had a chance to play "Knockout" with Bulldog players, and enjoyed a three-point shooting contest.

Makenlee Williams took home the 2016 Fan Fest three-point title for the second-straight year, defeating Elle Tinkle in the semifinals and Emma Stach in an exciting final, 18-17. Senior Kiara Kudron defeated Zykera Rice in the knockout finals, and the contest was moved to the three-point line late as the ladies were not missing free throws.

The scrimmage featured a blue and white squad, with Chandler Smith and Zhane Templeton spending some time running with each squad.  Jill Barta, the 2015-16 leading scorer, led all players with 14 points as her blue team won 30-28.  Her teammate on the blue team, Elle Tinkle, returned to the court for the Zags and supported her with seven points and six rebounds.  Kiara Kudron led the white team with nine points and Zykera Rice scored seven.  Kudron led the team with seven rebounds.  Kudron also had three assists, and so did teammate Laura Stockton.

“I like how our defense was getting up the line a little bit more. It’s nice having Elle (Tinkle) back, she creates a lot of offense off of her defense,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said.  “We are able to get other people out into the passing lanes and get their hands on balls and make plays. We had a nice crowd of people just like we would expect here in Spokane and at Gonzaga. We are so well supported and I think our freshman and our redshirts and transfers all got a little bit of the jitters out.”

The white team built an early 20-12 lead, but Blue cut it to 24-22 by the half.  The teams entered the third quarter tied at 25, and white had a chance late to tie the game or take the lead, but Barta secured the rebound and the two-point win.

“We all are excited to come back and start playing out first game,” Barta said.  “It’s coming up soon and we are ready and we are all excited.”

The Zag faithful had a chance to get autographs from all of the Gonzaga student-athletes and coaches after the scrimmage.

“It was fun to play in front of the crowd and the environment. I wish we could have kept going, we could have played a little longer,” senior transfer Mackenlee Williams said.

Gonzaga begins its season with an exhibition game against Corban on Nov. 4, followed by the regular season opener on Nov. 12, versus Nicholls State, both games are in McCarthey Athletic Center.


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