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Zags Start New Year At Saint Joseph's

Jan. 2, 2008

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Thursday, January 3 - 9 a.m. PT
Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse - Philadelphia, PA

F - 11 Janelle Bekkering, 6-0, RS-Fr., Alberta, Canada
     (7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.1 apg)
F - 44 Vivian Frieson, 6-0, So., Seattle, WA
     (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G - 21 Courtney Vandersloot, 5-8, Fr., Kent, WA
     (8.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.4 apg)
G - 31 Michelle Elliott, 5-11, Sr., Pasco, WA
     (10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
G - 32 Jami Bjorklund, 5-11, Jr., Spokane, WA
     (11.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg)
HEAD COACH: Kelly Graves (University of New Mexico, 1988)
GONZAGA RECORD: 129-99 (8th year); CAREER RECORD: 194-125 (11th year)

F - 21 Brittany Ford, 6-1, So., Wilmington, DE
     (9.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
C - 51 Sarah Acker, 6-3, Fr., Nanticoke, PA
     (11.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
G - 4 Amy Wold, 5-9, Sr., Cedar Rapids, IA
     (6.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G - 5 Mary Kate McDade, 5-8, Jr., Philadelphia, PA
     (4.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.5 apg)
G - 32 Timisha Gomez, 5-8, Sr., Elkridge, MD
     (11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.8 apg)
HEAD COACH: Cindy Griffin (Saint Joseph's, 1991)
SAINT JOSEPH'S RECORD: 118-84 (6th year); CAREER RECORD: 166-117 (11th year)

UP NEXT: Gonzaga University women's basketball closes out its regular-season non-conference slate with a contest at Saint Joseph's University. The first-time meeting between the Bulldogs and Hawks is set for Jan. 3 at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse in Philadelphia, Penn. The game is set to tip at 9 a.m. PT.

LIVE VIDEO COVERAGE: All home Gonzaga University women's basketball contests can be seen live on CSTV's all-access through GoZags.com. Check out the the women's basketball schedule page for the link to the video broadcast. Gametracker is also available for all home games and can be accessed at GoZags.com

ON THE RADIO: Gonzaga University will have all regular-season home games broadcast on the radio this season as Steve Myklebust returns for his fourth year of calling the action. Each game will be broadcast on KGA 1510 AM in Spokane with a pre-game show 20-minutes prior to tip. Games will also be available on the internet at GoZags.com.   

TICKET INFORMATION: Single game tickets to Gonzaga University women's basketball can be purchased through TicketsWest at 325-SEAT (7328), TicketsWest.com, at any TicketsWest outlet, or at the McCarthey Athletic Center Ticket Office, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Women's Basketball Ticket Prices are as follows: $7-Reserved $5-General Admission Adult; $3-General Admission Child (12 and under), or Senior (65 and over); Gonzaga Students, Faculty & Staff are free with a valid Gonzaga ID.

ZAGS ON ESPNU: Gonzaga University women's basketball will have one home game nationally televised. The Bulldogs opening West Coast Conference game against Pepperdine University, Jan. 10 will be broadcast on ESPNU.

ZAGS HOME TV SCHEDULE: The Gonzaga University women's basketball team will have nine home games televised this season. The Bulldogs will have eight broadcasted locally and one nationally. The Zags will appear nationally on ESPNU and locally on KAYU, KHQ and GU TV this season.

GONZAGA FALLS TO UTAH VALLEY STATE: Gonzaga University women's basketball dropped a lopsided 94-73 decision to Utah Valley State College Monday afternoon in Orem, Utah. The Bulldogs, down only 73-68 with 6:09 left in the contest, was held to just five points over the final six minutes while the Wolverines scored 21 to earn 21-point victory. The Zags fell to 8-6 on the season with the loss while the Wolverines improved to 12-3 overall. Gonzaga, who led 59-58 with 11:50 remaining in the contest, and who was only down 73-68 with 6:09 left, closed out the contest hitting only 2-of-11 from the field. The Bulldogs went dry after a jumper by junior Jami Bjorklund cut the Wolverines lead to five at 6:09. The Zags would not score again until senior Michelle Elliott drained a three-pointer with 57 seconds left in the contest. At that point the game had slipped out of the Zags reach. Utah Valley was able to capitalize on Gonzaga's misfortunes as it used a 17-0 run to gain a huge 22-point advantage with 1:18 left. Robyn Fairbanks and Rebekah Peterson were huge for the Wolverines in the second half as they scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Sophomore Vivian Frieson led the Bulldogs as four players finished in double-digit points. Frieson closed out the game scoring 20 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. She also grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds for Gonzaga. Also registering double-figure points was Bjorklund, sophomore Tiffanie Shives and freshman Courtney Vandersloot. Bjorklund posted 16 points, while Shives and Vandersloot had 11 and 10, respectively.

SCOUTING THE HAWKS: Saint Joseph's University currently holds a 7-6 record and have won two-straight. The Hawks upset No. 15 Auburn University in their last contest to win the Hilton Philadelphia Hawk Classic on Dec. 29. SJU is led by Sarah Acker and Timisha Gomez. Acker is averaging a team-leading 11.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, while Gomez is registering 11.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest. The Hawks are coached by Cindy Griffin in her sixth year at Saint Joseph's.

ALL-TIME AGAINST SAINT JOSEPH'S: This will be the first meeting between Gonzaga University and Saint Joseph's University.

BOWMAN ON PACE TO RETURN: Gonzaga University women's basketball sophomore Heather Bowman, who broke her left hand Dec. 12, is on pace to return to the Bulldogs lineup by West Coast Conference action Jan. 10. Bowman, who has missed five games with the hand injury, was leading the team in both points (21.2) and rebounds (10.1) per game.

FREE THROWS: Gonzaga University is struggling with its free throws on the road but is nearly opposite at home in the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs are shooting a dismal 65.9% at the charity stripe on the road, hitting only 83 of 126 attempts. The Zags at home at the McCarthey Athletic Center is sinking 76.1%  of their free throws, draining 86 of their 113 attempts.

PICKING UP THE SLACK: With leading scorer and rebounder Heather Bowman out with a broken hand, multiple players have stepped in and picked up where she left off for Gonzaga University. Against the University of Tennessee, the first game Bowman missed, both Vivian Frieson and Jami Bjorklund had explosive games. Frieson finished with a career-high 21 points while Bjorklund posted 19. In the second game without Bowman, a home contest against Purdue University, it was Bjorklund who finished with a then-season-high 20 points along with a team-high seven boards. In the Bulldogs last contest before Christmas break, at Montana State University, Janelle Bekkering shined finishing with her first career double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. In GU's home game against Eastern Washington, both Bjorklund and senior Michelle Elliott were the stars. Bjorklund finished with a career-tying 25 points, while Elliott posted 24 points, hit six three-pointers, and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. In the Zags last contest, Frieson again shined, scoring 20 points in GU's setback to Utah Valley State. Over the five games Bowman has missed, Bjorklund has averaged 17.0 points per game and Frieson averaged 13.6 points per game.      

SHOOTING STARS: The Gonzaga University women's basketball squad has had a strong shooting season so far in 2007-08. The Bulldogs are currently shooting 44.4% (414-932) from the field over their 14 games, including two 50.0% or higher shooting nights and 12 40.0% or higher shooting games. Gonzaga is hitting 47.1% (190-403) from the field at home contests and 44.5% (200-449) on the road. 

FRIESON SHINES AGAINST TENNESSEE: Sophomore forward Vivian Frieson, of the Gonzaga University women's basketball team, scored a career-high 21 points on 9-for-11 (.886) shooting, and grabbed a team-best seven rebounds in her first career start against #1 University of Tennessee. Frieson, playing in only her third game this season after missing the first seven with a broken finger, also had two assists and one steal in a career-high 33 minutes of action.

ELLIOTT SETS TREY RECORD IN ROAD WIN: Senior Michelle Elliott hit a single-game school record nine 3-pointers and finished with career-high 31 points to lead the Gonzaga University women's basketball team to a 75-63 victory over Sacramento State University Saturday, Dec. 8. Sophomore Heather Bowman chipped in 28 points. Elliott, who hit three 3-pointers in the first half and drained six in the second stanza, broke the 14-year old Bulldog single-game three-pointer record held by Ivy Safranski. Safranski hit eight 3-pointers in a 105-69 victory over Northeast Louisiana on March 26, 1994 during the WNIT. Elliott closed out contest hitting 11-of-16 from the floor, including 9-of-12 three-pointers. Elliott's previous best was 25 scored as a sophomore at San Diego State University during the 2004-05 season. Her Bulldog career-high was 22 scored against Sacramento State last season.

WCC PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Gonzaga University women's basketball sophomore Heather Bowman was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Month for November. Bowman led Gonzaga to a 4-2 record during the month of November, averaging 20.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game through the season's first month. The forward shot 53.3% (48-90) from the field, and hit 29 of her 33 attempts (87.9%) from the free throw line. Bowman also posted three double-doubles during the month, beginning with a 25-point, 11-rebound effort in a win over the University of Nevada on Nov. 17 The Spokane native then poured in 20 points and 11 boards against the University of Montana on Nov. 19, and finished off the month with 20 points and 11 rebounds at then-No. 14 ranked Arizona State University Nov. 30. Bowman, who garnered WCC Player of the Week honors twice during the month, was the overall leading scorer in each of the six games during November.  

NATIONAL STATISTICS: Gonzaga University women's basketball players Heather Bowman, Courtney Vandersloot and Michelle Elliott are all ranked in the top of the nation in multiple statistical categories as of Dec. 16. Bowman is 11th in NCAA Division I in points per game (21.2) and 20th in rebounds per game (10.1). Angel McCoughty, of Louisville, is the leading scorer in the nation averaging 24.9 points, while Courtney Paris, of Oklahoma, is the top rebounder in the nation averaging 15.8 per game. Vandersloot is tied for 31st in the nation is assists per game averaging 5.2, while Elliott is 24th in three-point field goal percentage (45.5). Claire Faucher, of Portland State University, is leading the nation in assists with 9.1 per contest and Wendy Ausedomore of Iowa is the leading three-point shooter at 58.1. Gonzaga University as a team is also ninth in the nation in assists per contest, averaging 18.8. The University of Connecticut leads the nation in team assists with 23.3 per game. 

HEAD COACH Kelly Graves: Kelly Graves is in his eighth season as the head coach at Gonzaga University having built the Bulldogs into an annual West Coast Conference contender. After winning just five games his first season, Graves has guided the Bulldogs to three-straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles. This past season he added a WCC Tournament championship and the Zags inaugural berth in the NCAA Tournament to his GU highlights. Gonzaga finished the 2006-07 season with a 24-10 overall record and a 13-1 record in the WCC; which helped Graves garner WCC Co-Coach of the Year honors. Graves is currently the school's career wins leader with a 129-99 record. He has been named the WCC Coach of the Year at Gonzaga three times (2003 & 2005 & 2007) and boasts a 194-125 career record including 89-51 in WCC action.

LOOKING FOR 200: Gonzaga University head basketball coach Kelly Graves is seven wins shy of earning his 200th career victory. Graves, in his eighth year as the Bulldogs head coach, currently boasts a 194-125 career-record over his 11 seasons.   

FRESH FACES TO GONZAGA: Gonzaga University women's basketball has four new faces on the court and one on the bench this season. Redshirt freshman Janelle Bekkering and sophomore transfer Tiffanie Shives suited up in Bulldog uniforms for the first time this season after both sitting out last year. Also new this season is freshman guard Courtney Vandersloot and freshman forward Claire Raap. Lisa Mispley Fortier returns to the Gonzaga bench as an assistant coach after one season at Northern Colorado University. Fortier was the director of operations for the Zags from 2004-06.

BOWMAN AMONG TOP WCC RETURNERS: Gonzaga University sophomore forward Heather Bowman has been selected as one of the Top 6 returning players in the West Coast Conference for the 2007 season. Bowman was the WCC's Newcomer of the Year last season and the WCC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Bowman led the conference in scoring in WCC contests (16.3 ppg). Joining Bowman on the top returning player list are Dominique Carter from the University of San Francisco, Daphanie Kennedy and Teena Wickett from Pepperdine University and Amanda Rego and Amber Sprague from the University of San Diego.

DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Gonzaga University sophomore Heather Bowman has registered five double-doubles on the season and now has nine career double-doubles to her credit. Bowman scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in GU's victory over the University of Nevada and then followed that up with a season-high 25 points, along with 11 rebounds in the Zags victory over the University of Montana. In GU's setback at Arizona State University, Bowman scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds; both game-highs. In the second game of the ASU Classic Bowman had 15 points and a game-high 14 boards; one shy of tying her career-high, against UC Riverside. Bowman's latest double-double was a 23 point, 12 rebound effort in a 71-58 victory over UC Davis.

DOUBLE-DIGIT POINTS: Heather Bowman has scored in double-digit points in all nine Gonzaga University contests she has played in and has also been the overall leading scorer in seven of the nine games. Of her nine double-figure performances, six have been 20+ point games.

TRUE FRESHMAN: True freshman Courtney Vandersloot, of the Gonzaga University women's basketball team, has had a strong start to her collegiate career. Vandersloot, who has played in all 14 games, getting the starting nod the last six games, is leading the team in assists, averaging 5.4 per game. She has dished out four or more assists in 11 Zag games, including a career-high 10 against the University of Washington on Nov. 12. Vandersloot is also averaging 8.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

FINDING HER GROOVE: Senior Michelle Elliott had a spectacular game at UC Davis on Dec. 6. Elliott, who played 26 minutes, hit five three-pointers in the contest, equaling her season total. She finished with 19 points. Elliott also had six rebounds, two assists and one steal in the 13-point victory. In her second-straight game as a spark off the bench, Elliott exploded. She drained a Bulldog single-game record nine three-pointers and finished with a career-high 31 points. Elliott has drained a team-leading 30 three-pointers this season.

FIRST TIME: Junior guard Jami Bjorklund posted her first collegiate double-double in Gonzaga University's 91-72 victory over the University of Washington, Nov. 12. Bjorklund finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds; six of which were offensive.

CAREER-HIGH: Junior guard Jami Bjorklund is second on the team in rebounds per game, averaging 5.8. The spokane native has had double-figure rebounds in two contests this season, including a career-high 13 boards against UC Riverside on Dec. 2. Her previous best was 10 brought down in Gonzaga University's opening contest against the University of Washington, Nov. 12.

BJORKLUND SHOWDOWN: The hype heading into the Gonzaga University and University Tennessee women's basketball game centered around the Bjorklund sisters from Spokane, Wash.. Facing off against each other for the first time in their playing careers, Angie scored a team-high 23 points to help the Lady Vols to a 93-73 victory over unranked Gonzaga. Older sister Jami had 19 points for the Bulldogs.

Elaina Renius SUITS UP: Gonzaga University two-sport athlete Elaina Renius suited up in a women's basketball jersey for the first time this season and for the first time in nearly two years on Nov. 19. Renius, who played basketball her first two seasons at GU (2004-05, 2005-06), has played volleyball for the past two years (2006 & 2007). The Zag volleyball season ended on Saturday, Nov. 17 with a 3-0 loss to WCC rival the University of San Francisco and two days later Renius was suited up and ready to play basketball. Renius' first game action game was against Arizona State University. She played 19 minutes, scored two points, grabbed four rebounds, made three steals, blocked one shot and had one assist. 

SCORING 1,000 POINTS: Senior Michelle Elliott hit the 1,000-point plateau against Sacramento State University Dec. 8. The guard came into the season with 904 total points and has scored 141 points this season to up her career point total to 1,045. Elliott played her first two collegiate seasons at San Diego State University registering 549 points over those two years. Last season, in her first year with Gonzaga University, Elliott posted 315 total points.

MAKING HER MARK: After sitting out a year after transferring to Gonzaga University, sophomore guard Tiffanie Shives is finally settling in. The transfer from Michigan State is averaging 9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and  1.9 assists per game. She also has hit 26 three-pointers this season. Shives earned her first starting nod against UC Davis Dec. 6 and shined in the debut. The guard finished with 15 points, hitting 5-of-9 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from beyond the three-point arc. She also had eight rebounds in the Bulldogs first road victory.

THREE STARTERS RETURN: This year the Gonzaga University Bulldogs return three starters from the 2006-07 squad that made its inaugural appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Returning to the mix is senior guard Rachel Kane, junior guard Jami Bjorklund and sophomore forward Heather Bowman. Kane played in all 34 games, getting the starting nod 22 times. She averaged 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and a team-best 3.9 assists per contest. Bjorklund started 28 games for the Bulldogs and averaged 9.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Bowman, the WCC Newcomer of the Year, played and started in all 34 games for the Zags. She averaged 13.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game as a freshman.

BULLDOGS FACE TOUGH SCHEDULE: Gonzaga University, coming off a season that saw it win their first-ever WCC Tournament Championship and make their inaugural appearance in the NCAA Tournament, have put together one of the strongest schedules in school history. Of the 15 non-conference match-ups on the slate this season, 10 opponents either made it to the NCAA Tournament or participated in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) in 2007. Included in that list is a game against the defending National Champions the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers and Elite Eight members Arizona State University and Purdue University.