Zags and No. 11/13 Sooners To Battle In WNIT Semifinals
|GAME 3 - NO. 25 GONZAGA AT NO. 11/13 OKLAHOMA (Preseason WNIT)|
DATE: Thursday, November 14, 2013
|THE LAST MEETING: First meeting.|
No. 11/13 OKLAHOMA SOONERS
No. 25 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (2-0)
No. 11/13 UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA SOONERS (2-0)
ZAGS HIT THE ROAD; PLAY AT No. 11 OKLAHOMA THURSDAY: The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team hits the road for the first time this season. The Zags play at No. 11 University of Oklahoma Thursday in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT. The game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. PT tip and can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest Plus and Fox College Sports Central.
ABOUT THE GONZAGA BULLDOGS: Gonzaga University women’s basketball is coming off another successful campaign where it earned its fifth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, won its ninth-straight West Coast Conference regular season title and fourth WCC Tournament Championship in five years. The Bulldogs return 12 letterwinners from its 27-6, 15-1 WCC squad in 2012-13, including four starters. Headlining the group of Bulldog returnees is senior guard Haiden Palmer, the 2013 WCC Tournament Most Valuable Player, senior guard Jazmine Redmon, the reigning WCC Defensive Player of the Year, and junior forward Sunny Greinacher, a 2013 All-WCC honoree.
ABOUT THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS: The University of Oklahoma women’s basketball team is currently ranked 11th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and 13th in the USA Today Coaches’ Top 25. The Sooners, like Gonzaga University, opened the 2013-14 season winning their first two games of the Preseason WNIT. OU defeated Stetson 78-60 and Wichita State 89-70. Aaryon Ellenburg and Sharane Campbell are leading the charge, averaging 19.0 points and 17.0 points per game, respectively. Morgan Hook is also averaging double-figures at 11.5 per game. She is also chipping in 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per contest. The Sooners are coached by Sherri Coale, in her 18th year at the helm. Oklahoma is coming off a season where it finished 24-11 overall, 11-7 in Big 12 Conference play and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.
GONZAGA VS. THE BIG 12: This will be first meeting on the hardwood between Gonzaga University and the University of Oklahoma. The Bulldogs have played three Big 12 Conference members in their history and hold a 2-2 record. The Zags are 1-1 versus Baylor University, 0-1 against Iowa State University and 1-0 versus TCU. Most recently, Gonzaga has played Iowa State and Baylor. GU fell to the Cyclones in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament 70-62 and dropped a 70-49 decision to the Bears at the 2010 Holiday Hoops Classic.
ABOUT THE PRESEASON WNIT: The 2013 Preseason WNIT celebrates its 20th year. Ten of the 16 teams featured in this year’s field are coming off of NCAA Tournament appearances and include NCAA Runner-Up Louisville and preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma. Each team will be guaranteed a minimum of three games. All games, including semifinal and championship, will be hosted by participating schools. The WNIT semifinals are set for Thursday, Nov. 14, with Gonzaga playing at No. 11/13 University of Oklahoma at 5 p.m. PT and No. 14/16 LSU playing at No. 4/5 the University of Louisville 4 p.m. PT. The championship game Sunday, Nov. 17 and will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 1 p.m. PT.
PALMER HAS BIG OPENING WEEKEND: Gonzaga University senior guard Haiden Palmer led Gonzaga to a 2-0 opening weekend by averaging 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 steals and 1.5 assists while shooting 56.0 percent (14-25) from the field. Palmer scored 18 points, including 10 in final 13 minutes, to help the Zags defeat the University of Idaho 64-56 in the opening round game of the Preseason WNIT. She also had seven rebounds, seven steals and two blocks. In GU’s second round Preseason WNIT game, Palmer again scored 18 points – on 7-of-10 shooting, including hitting 2-of-3 3-pointers - to lead the squad to a 91-54 victory over UT Martin. She also finished with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
TWO DOUBLE-DIGIT REBOUNDERS: Gonzaga University women’s basketball had two players break double-figures in rebounds against the University of Idaho, Nov. 8. Sophomore Kiara Kudron and junior Lindsay Sherbert both grabbed 11 rebounds. The 11 rebounds was a career-high for Kudron, while University of Cal transfer’s career high is 14 grabbed at New Mexico on Nov. 20, 2010 while a member of the Bears squad. The last time two players had double-digit rebounds in the same game was Feb. 18, 2012 when Kelly Bowen and Taelor Karr had 16 and 12 rebounds, respectively, in the Zags 66-40 win over Pepperdine University.
FIRST START FOR ALBANEZ: Gonzaga University junior Keani Albanez didn’t disappoint in her first career start. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native earned the starting nod in the Bulldogs opening game against the University of Idaho and she finished with 13 points - one of only two players to reach double-figures - one block and one steal in 26 minutes of play. The guard followed that up with a career-day in the Zags second round Preseason WNIT victory over UT Martin. She hit a career-high four 3-pointers and ended the day with 14 points, while also grabbing a career-high eight boards.
ZAGS REBOUND FROM POOR SHOOTING NIGHT: Gonzaga University women’s basketball opened the new season shooting a sub-par 32.8 percent (21-of-64) in its opening win over the University of Idaho, Nov. 8. The Bulldogs rebounded to shoot an impressive 52.2 percent (36-of-69) from the field in their 37-point victory over UT Martin, Nov. 10. In turn the Zags held both their opening opponents below 30.0 percent as the Vandals finished at 26.6 (17-of-64) and the Skyhawks closed out the game at 26.7 percent (20-of-75). GU shot above 50 percent five times in 2012-13, including twice in non-conference, and held three opponents below 30.0 percent, one in non-conference play.
WHAT WE RETURN: Gonzaga University’s women’s basketball team returns 12 letterwinners, including four starters from last year’s squad and lost only two players to graduation. Overall, the Zags return 80.2 percent of its scoring from the 2012-13 season and 88.5 percent of its rebounding. The Bulldogs top returning scorer is senior Haiden Palmer who led the team in scoring as a junior at 12.5 points per game and was third on the squad in 2011-12 averaging 12.4. Senior Jazmine Redmon and junior Sunny Greinacher are the only other two Zags who averaged more than 20 minutes a game last season. Redmon played and started all 33 games as a junior, averaging 26.2 minutes, 6.1 points, 1.9 steals and a team-best 3.8 assists per game. Greinacher averaged 23.7 minutes, 9.2 points and 4.9 rebounds, while shooting a team-best 51.6 percent from the floor.
WHO ARE THE NEWCOMERS: Gonzaga University women’s basketball welcomes two new faces in 2013-14; one of which has been with the program for season already. University of California transfer Lindsay Sherbert is eligible after sitting out the 2012-13 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules. Sherbert, now a junior, averaged 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game over her two years at California. She also drained 80 3-pointers. The lone freshman on the squad is Emma Wolfram from Kamloops, British Columbia. The 6-5 center was coached by Ken Olynyk, the father of former men’s basketball player Kelly Olynyk. Wolfram will redshirt this season.
ZAGS STARTED SEASON RANKED FOR FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY: For the first time in program history, the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team started the season ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. The Bulldogs checked in at No. 25 as the Associated Press released the preseason rankings. Gonzaga received 81 votes to edge out West Virginia University, who had 77 votes, for the final spot. The Bulldogs continue to be ranked; standing firm in their No. 25 spot, this week with 99 votes.
GONZAGA RECEIVING VOTES IN USA TODAY COACHES' POLL: The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team is still receiving votes in the preseason USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 poll. The Bulldogs received 43 votes in the poll; the first team ‘also’ receiving votes.
BULLDOGS PICKED FIRST IN WEST COAST CONFERENCE: Gonzaga University was chosen as the favorite to claim the West Coast Conference women’s basketball title for in the 2013-14 preseason coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs, who received the maximum nine first place votes for a total of 81 points, have won the WCC regular season title for an unprecedented nine-straight years. The University of San Diego captured one first place vote and was selected to finish second in the preseason poll, collecting 69 points. Saint Mary’s College was selected to finish third in the preseason coaches’ poll with 63 votes, followed by BYU in fourth with 62 votes. West Coast Conference newcomer University of the Pacific was tabbed fifth with 46 votes, followed by Loyola Marymount University in sixth with 38 votes. The University of Portland, University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University all tied for seventh with 27 votes apiece. Pepperdine University rounded out the field in 10th with 10 points.
ZAGS RANKED 13TH IN ATTENDANCE IN 2012-13: Gonzaga University women’s basketball ended the 2012-13 season ranked a school-high 13th in NCAA Division I home attendance averaging 5,678 fans for its 17 home games. The Bulldogs also had a school record seven sellouts. In 2011-12, the Bulldogs averaged 5,442 fans for their 17 home games which stood 14th in the NCAA for women’s basketball attendance. In their first two games of the 2013-14 campaign, the Zags are averaging 5,228.
McCARTHEY ATHLETIC CENTER: Since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened in 2004, the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team has gone 114-16 overall. The Bulldogs went undefeated at 14-0 in the McCarthey Athletic Center during the 2004-05 campaign, the first season it was open, and went 15-0 during the 2009-10 season. Five of the 15 losses have been to Pacific-12 Conference members - Stanford (twice), Arizona State, USC and Washington State - and three to West Coast Conference schools.
OPPONENTS IN TOP 25: Gonzaga University women’s basketball 2013-14 opponent Stanford University, along with 2013 Preseason WNIT semifinal opponent University of Oklahoma, and possible Preseason WNIT opponents University of Louisville and LSU are all ranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 preseason polls. Stanford is ranked third in the Associated Press and fifth in the USA Coaches Poll, while the Sooners are ranked 11th in the AP Poll and 13 in the Coaches Top 15. Louisville is currently fourth in the Coaches and fifth in AP and LSU is ranked 14th in the Associated Press and 16th in the USA Today Coaches’ poll.
BASKETBALL IN HER GENES: Gonzaga University women’s basketball sophomore Elle Tinkle comes from a basketball family. Her father Wayne Tinkle played for the University of Montana, played professionally in Europe for 10 years and is currently the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Montana. Her mother Lisa Tinkle also played for Montana and was inducted into Montana’s Hall of Fame. Her sister Joslyn Tinkle graduated from Stanford University in the spring of 2013 after a stellar 4-year basketball career. Joslyn Tinkle and former Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot are currently playing together overseas in Hungary with Uni Gyor.
COACH GRAVES AND USA BASKETBALL: Gonzaga University women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves has added USA Basketball to his resume. Graves was an assistant coach with the U18 women’s basketball squad that won goal at the 2012 FIBA Americas and was once again on the sidelines as an assistant coach when the U19 team won gold at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship of Women held in Klaipeda, Lithuania this past summer.
NEW FACE ON THE SIDELINES: Gonzaga University women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves announced the hiring of current WNBA player and former Stanford University standout Nicole Powell as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs in 2013-14. Powell replaced Julie Shaw who is now the head women’s coach at the University of La Verne. Powell closed out her 10th year in the WNBA and first with the Tulsa Shock this summer. She was the third overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft; selected by the Charlotte Sting. Powell ended her career at Stanford as one of only two 3-time Kodak All-American’s in its women’s basketball history and was a finalist for the James Naismith Player of the Year for 3-consecutive years (2002-04). The Sierra Vista, Ariz., native began her career with Stanford as the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2000 and was named the Conference Player of the Year in both 2002 and 2004.
SISTERS TO BATTLE ON THE HARDWOOD: Gonzaga University women’s basketball senior Jazmine Redmon will face a familiar face when the Bulldogs host Eastern Washington University, Nov. 20. Redmon will battle her younger sister Jade Redmon, a freshman guard for the Eagles. This will be third time a Zag has played against a sister. Jami (Bjorklund) Schaefer’s younger sister Angie Bjorklund played for the University of Tennessee when GU played them in both 2007-08 and 2008-09, and current Zag Elle Tinkle played older sister Joslyn Tinkle, a then-senior on Stanford’s women’s basketball team, last season.
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