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Zags Open WCC Tournament Play On Thursday

Feb. 27, 2007

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Game No. 31 - UNIVERSITY OF PORTLANDWEST COAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUNDThursday, March 1 - 2 p.m.Chiles Center (4,852) - Portland, OR

GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (21-9, 13-1 WCC)F - 30 Heather Bowman, 6-2, Fr., Spokane, WA (12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg)F - 42 Stephanie Hawk, 6-3, Sr., Ontario, OR (14.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg)G - 12 Rachel Kane, 5-7, Jr., Kaneohe, HI (4.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.6 apg)G - 21 Katy Ridenour, 5-11, Sr., Post Falls, ID (5.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)G - 32 Jami Bjorklund, 5-11, So., Spokane, WA (9.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg)HEAD COACH: Kelly Graves (University of New Mexico, 1988)GONZAGA RECORD: 117-91 (7th year);
CAREER RECORD: 183-117 (10th year)

UNIVERSITY OF PORTLAND (10-19, 2-12 WCC)F - 33 Nicole Rowe, 6-1, Sr., Gold Beach, OR (2.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg)F - 45 Anne Graner, 5-9, Sr., Red Wing, MN (5.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg)C - 32 Allyson Sievers, 6-2, So., Kent, WA (6.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg)G - 14 Laiken Dollente, 5-8, Fr., Yakima, WA (15.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg)G - 22 Karlie Burris, 5-11, So., Melbourne, Australia (2.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg)HEAD COACH: Jim Sollars (Seattle Pacific, 1966)UP RECORD: 285-317 (21st year); CAREER RECORD: 462-399 (31st year) 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Senior forward Stephanie Hawk was named 2007 West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Year. Hawk was the first Gonzaga University player to earn this award since 2005 when former teammate Shannon Matthews garnered the honor. Hawk is the only league player to currently rank among the top three in the conference in both scoring (14.9 ppg - 3rd) and rebounding (7.9 rpg - 2nd).

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Freshman Heather Bowman was named the 2007 West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year. She is the first Gonzaga University women's basketball player to garner this award since 1992 when Juanita Rivera earned the honor. Bowman is averaging 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season, including a WCC-best 16.3 points, along with 7.1 rebounds in conference action.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Gonzaga University women's basketball head coach Kelly Graves was named the 2007 West Coast Conference Co-Coach of the Year. Graves earned Coach of the Year honors for the third time in the last five seasons after guiding the Bulldogs to a 21-9 overall mark and an impressive 13-1 record in conference play. Graves also earned the honor in both 2003 and 2005.

TWO PLAYERS NAMED TO ALL-WCC: Gonzaga University had two players earn first-team All-West Coast Conference honors as senior Stephanie Hawk and freshman Heather Bowman both were named to the team. Hawk, who earned first-team honors a season ago, was named WCC Player of the Week five times this season and earned WCC Player of the Month for January. She finished the regular-season with 11 double-doubles to her credit, including nine in WCC action. She leads the Zags with 14.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. Bowman, who also garnered Newcomer of the Year and was named to the All-Freshman Team, finished the season averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest. She has scored in double-digit points in 20 contests, including eight 20+ point performances and one 30+ point performance. Bowman also earned WCC Player of the Week once this season.

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: Along with being named the West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year and to the WCC All-Conference first-team, freshman Heather Bowman was also named to the WCC All-Freshman Team. Bowman averaged 16.3 points during WCC action; highest in the conference. This is the second-straight year that Gonzaga University had a member of the squad named to the All-Freshman team as Jami Bjorklund earned the honor last season.

HEAD COACH Kelly Graves: Kelly Graves is in his seventh 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, Gonzaga finished with a 16-14 overall record and an 11-3 record in the WCC to claim a share of the WCC regular-season title. In 2004-05, GU won its first regular-season title since 1988 when GU posted a 28-4 record and 14-0 mark in the WCC. It was only the second time a school has run the table in the league. Graves was an assistant coach at the University of Portland when the Pilots accomplished the feat in 1997. For his efforts in 2004-05, Graves was named the WBCA Region 8 Coach of the Year and WCC Coach of the Year as Gonzaga ran off a nation's-best 23 game win streak and earned the school's first national ranking. Graves is currently the school's career wins leader with a 117-91 record. He has been named the WCC Coach of the Year three times at Gonzaga (2003 & 2005 & 2007) and boasts a 183-117 career record including 89-51 in WCC action.

SCOUTING THE PILOTS: Gonzaga University faces the University of Portland for the third time this season when the two teams meet in the opening round of the West Coast Conference Tournament on Thursday. In their first meeting of the season, the Bulldogs defeated the Pilots  61-48 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Then on Feb 17, Gonzaga earned an 88-58 decision at Portland. The Pilots finished the season with a 10-19 overall record and a 2-12 mark in the WCC. In its last weekend of WCC play, Portland earned a 54-52 win over visiting University of San Francisco and took No. 2 seed University of San Diego to overtime before falling 81-75. The Pilots are led by WCC All-Conference honoree and All-Freshman member Laiken Dollente who is averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game. Gonzaga has a 1-3 record against Portland in WCC Tournament play. The Bulldogs dropped a 73-65 decision to Portland in the championship game of the 1994 season, then fell 79-73 in the first round of the 1995 tournament and again dropped a 77-60 decision to the Pilots in the first round of the 1996 tournament. The most recent meeting between the two schools in tournament play was the 2005 tournament when the Bulldogs earned a 77-42 win in the first round.  

BULLDOGS AND THE WCC TOURNAMENT: This will be the 14th appearance in the West Coast Conference Tournament and only the second appearance as the No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs advanced to the WCC Tournament Championship game in both 2004 and 2005. In 2004, Gonzaga fell to Loyola Marymount University 61-58 and in 2005 dropped a 77-66 decision to Santa Clara University. The Zags also fell in the 1994 championship game to Portland. Last season, Gonzaga feel in the first round of the tournament to the University of San Francisco 75-67. The Bulldogs have earned bids to the WNIT following all three championship game losses. Gonzaga is 4-13 all-time at the WCC Tournament and the University of San Diego remains the only team GU has not faced in the tournament.

THREE-PEAT: Gonzaga, who last year became just the seventh team to win back-to-back WCC regular-season titles since the league adopted women's basketball in 1986, is now only the second team in WCC history to win three or more regular-season titles. The Bulldogs clinched their third-straight WCC regular-season title this year with an impressive 13-1 conference mark. Only Santa Clara University has ever won more than two consecutive regular-season titles, winning four from the 1991-94 seasons.

BULLDOGS HOT ON THE ROAD: The Gonzaga University women's basketball team enters the West Coast Conference tournament with high hopes. The Bulldogs, who finished the WCC season with a 13-1 mark in conference, come into the tournament on a six-game winning streak. The Zags, who are playing the tournament at the University of Portland, closed out the WCC season a perfect 7-0 on the road, including a 88-58 victory at the Chiles Center on Feb. 17.

GONZAGA ENTERS ON A ROLL: While not the 21-game win streak the Gonzaga University women's basketball team entered the 2005 West Coast Conference Tournament on, Gonzaga does have a six-game win streak rolling into the WCC Tourney this year. The Bulldogs also have won 14 out of their last 15 contests. The only other team coming into the tournament with a multiple wins is Loyola Marymount University who is on a four-game win streak. Pepperdine University and the University of San Diego both picked up wins on Saturday to enter with a minor win streak. The Bulldogs six-game win streak isn't their longest of the season. The Zags won eight-games from 12/30-1/27. The streak was halted when Gonzaga lost its lone WCC contest of the season to Pepperdine on Feb. 1. 

BREAKING 1,000: Gonzaga University senior Stephanie Hawk became only the 12th player in women's basketball history to score 1,000 points. Hawk needed just two points going into GU's contest against Santa Clara on Jan. 11 to eclipse 1,000. She finished with a career and game-high 33 points and now has scored 1,194 points over her career.

TOPPING 600: With her seven rebounds against Davidson College, Gonzaga University women's basketball senior Stephanie Hawk eclipsed the 500 rebound mark for her career. Hawk, who started off the season with 412 career rebounds, now has 649 rebounds to her credit. She is only the 11th GU player to grab over 600 rebounds and only the sixth player to score 1,000 and pull down 600.

BLOCK LEADER: Senior Stephanie Hawk become the Gonzaga University career leader in blocks this season with 153 over her four-year career. She broke Janet Robertson's 23-year record of 152 (1980-84) when she stuffed three shots against the University of San Francisco in the Bulldogs final regular-season game.

ALL-TIME GAMES PLAYED: Senior Katy Ridenour become the Gonzaga University women's basketball career-leader in games played this season. Ridenour has played in 122 games over her four-year tenure with the Bulldogs breaking Ashley Burke's (2003-05), Reanna Jewell's (2002-05), and Shannon Matthews' (2002-05) record of 121.

PICKING POCKETS: Katy Ridenour collected three steals in Gonzaga University's victory over the University of San Francisco on Feb. 24, giving the senior 45 steals on the season. Ridenour upped her career steals total to 132, moving her into sole possession of 10th place on the Gonzaga career list. She bumped former GU standout and current assistant coach Jennifer Mountain out of the top 10. Mountain closed out her career with 121 steals.

FROM BEHIND THE ARC: Gonzaga University senior Katy Ridenour cracked the Bulldogs career three-point Top 10 when she drained three three-pointers against the University of Utah in GU's opening game of the season. Ridenour has now drained 73 three-pointers during her career to stand in eighth place. She needs only six more three-pointers to take over seventh place

HAWK, BJORKLUND EARN ALL-ACADEMIC ACCOLADES: Gonzaga University women's basketball senior Stephanie Hawk and sophomore Jami Bjorklund both were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America. Both Hawk and Bjorklund earned first-team honors in District 8 which includes student-athletes from NCAA Division I schools in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Five total student-athletes, including Hawk and Bjorklund, were selected to the District 8 first-team and will now be placed on the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration.

HAWK, BJORKLUND, ELLIOTT EARN WCC WINTER ALL-ACADEMIC: Gonzaga University placed three women's basketball players on the West Coast Conference Winter Academic Team which was released on Feb. 22. Senior Stephanie Hawk, junior Michelle Elliott and sophomore Jami Bjorklund were honored. This is Hawk's second-straight WCC Winter All-Academic accolade. 

NINE DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Stephanie Hawk helped Gonzaga University women's basketball team to a 13-1 record in West Coast Conference play and its third-straight WCC regular-season title by finishing with double-doubles in nine out of its 14 games. Hawk scored 12 points with 13 rebounds in GU's 60-56 win at LMU, and followed up that performance with a 15 point, 10 rebound effort in the Zags 58-35 victory at Pepperdine. She then had a career-high 33 points and 11 rebounds in GU's win over Santa Clara and 10 points and 13 boards in a 13-point victory over Portland. Her next three double-doubles were a 20 point, 13 rebound performance against the University of San Francisco, a 16 point, 10 rebound output at the University of San Diego and a 21 point, 15 rebound explosion against Loyola Marymount. Her latest double-doubles were a 12 point and 13 rebound effort in a 71-58 victory over USD and a 14 point, 10 rebound performance against USF.

SIZZLING AS A TEAM: The Gonzaga University women's basketball team hit 60.8 percent (31-51) from the field in its 88-58 victory over Portland on Feb. 18. It was the Bulldogs best shooting night of the season. The Bulldogs finished the conference season shooting 43.0 percent (358-832) from the field, while holding their opponents to only 37.4 percent (302-832) shooting.

ONLY WCC LOSS: The Gonzaga University women's basketball team dropped a 70-56 decision to visiting Pepperdine University on Feb. 1 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The loss broke an eight-game Bulldog winning streak and was the Zags only West Coast Conference loss of the season.

DOWN LOW: Gonzaga University shot only 31.3 percent (21-67) from the field in its 70-56 setback to Pepperdine University. It was the Bulldogs lowest shooting percent in West Coast Conference action this season. The Zags 17 points scored in the first half against the Waves was the single-lowest first half output by Gonzaga this season. Its previous low was 19 scored at Hawaii.

A STELLAR COMBINATION: Senior Stephanie Hawk and freshman Heather Bowman combined for 26 of Gonzaga University's 57 points in helping the Bulldogs to a 57-37 victory over the University of San Francisco on Feb. 24. On the season, the dynamic duo are combining for nearly 40 percent (832-2090) of the Zags overall scoring and 46 percent (453-982) of GU's scoring during West Coast Conference games.

BJORKLUND CONTINUES TO ROLL:  Sophomore Jami Bjorklund, who became the first Gonzaga University player in 13 years to earn All-Freshman team recognition as she was named to the All-WCC Freshman Team a season ago, has continued her strong play as a Bulldog this season. Bjorklund has played in all 30 GU games this season, including 28 starts. She is averaging 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Bjorklund had a career night against #2 University of North Carolina on Nov. 25. She scored a then career-high 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field, including a perfect 3-for-3 on three-pointers. Bjorklund bested her career-high at the University of San Diego when she finished with 25 points.

BREAKING 30: Freshman Heather Bowman paced the Bulldogs to their victory over Eastern Washington University scoring a career-high 32 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field and 12-for-16 accuracy at free throw line. Her 32 points was the first 30-plus point game since Ashley Burke scored 31 against Montana during the 2003-04 season.

STRONG PLAY: Gonzaga University junior transfer Michelle Elliott has been a strong addition to the Bulldogs squad this season. Elliott has scored in double-figures in 15 out of GU's 30 games, including two 20+ performances. She scored a season-high 22 points in the Zags victory over Sacramento State and currently is third on the team with 9.9 points per game.
SPOTTING THE OPEN PLAYER: Rachel Kane dished out four assists in Gonzaga University's win over the University of San Francisco on Feb. 24, bringing her team-high assist total to 108 on the season. The junior currently ranks fourth in the West Coast Conference with 3.6 assists per game and is helping the Bulldogs average 16.2 assists per contest as a team; best in the WCC.

BREAKING OUT: Junior Rachel Kane, who has started 14-straight games for Gonzaga University, had a career-night for the Bulldogs in their 79-68 victory over Santa Clara University on Feb. 10. The guard sank 4-of-7 three-pointers and 2-of-2 free throws for a career-high 14 points. Kane also dished out six assists, her eighth game with five or more assists.

A CAREER NIGHT: Sophomore Maria Hassett had a career night against No. 13 Arizona State University. Hassett finished the contest scoring a career-high 11 points. She was 5-of-7 from the field, including a perfect 1-of-1 from behind the three-point arc. Hassett, who played 16 minutes, also grabbed four rebounds, had two steals and blocked one shot.

BULLDOGS AND THE 3-POINTER: In the Bulldogs final home game in the Martin Centre, Gonzaga witnessed its consecutive game streak with a three-pointer made come to an end against the University of San Francisco. That 0-for-6 performance against the Lady Dons ended a 222 game streak in which the Bulldogs had made at least one 3-pointer in a game. The streak started after the Bulldogs went 0-for-10 against the University of San Diego on Feb. 17, 1996. Gonzaga rebounded from that performance to knock down seven three-pointers in each of its next two games and has extended its current streak to 97 games. The Bulldogs record for three-pointers made in a game is 14 against UC Riverside on Dec. 31, 2001. Gonzaga has recorded 17 games with 10 or more three-pointers made since the three-point basket was incorporated into the college game including a 13 three-point performance against Santa Clara to open West Coast Conference play during the 2004-05 season.

HIGH SCORING AFFAIR: Gonzaga University's 85 points scored in its 85-49 lopsided victory over Saint Mary's on Jan. 13 was the highest Bulldog West Coast Conference scoring game in 28 contests. The last time the Zags scored 85 or more points in conference was their WCC season-opener during the 2004-05 season when it defeated Santa Clara 85-50. The Bulldogs eclipsed its WCC high of 85 points when it scored 87 in their 87-82 win at the University of San Diego on Jan. 27 and topped it again when they scored 88 in their 88-58 win at the University of Portland.

TAKING OVER THE GAME: Senior Stephanie Hawk scored 29 of her game and career-high 33 points over the final two periods of Gonzaga University's thrilling 78-73 overtime win against Santa Clara University Jan. 11. Her previous career-best was 28 scored against Northwestern on Dec. 12, 2005. Hawk's 33 points is the highest individual point total of the season for GU and the fifth-highest point total in Bulldog women's basketball history.

A TOUGH BLOW: Janelle Bekkering, one of Gonzaga University's highly recruited freshman, will medically redshirt this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL she suffered this past summer. Before Bekkering suffered her injury, she had been one of 24 players invited to attend the Canada's Senior Women's Basketball National Team's "tryout by invitation." She was the youngest of the 24 players invited to the tryout.

INJURY REPORT: Freshman point guard Tatriana Lorenzo  injured her left knee during Gonzaga University's game against UCLA in Hawaii and will be out for the rest of the season.

GONZAGA - THE NEW CLASS: The Gonzaga University women's basketball program is starting the 2007 season off on a strong note as head coach Kelly Graves has announced the signing of two players to national letters of intent. Joining the Bulldogs next fall will be Claire Raap, a 5-11 forward from Prosser High School in Prosser, Wash., and 5-8 guard Courtney Vandersloot from Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash. "The first thing people say when they see Claire compete is WOW," said Graves. "She is an incredible athlete, one with the rare combination of strength, jumping, running and coordination you just don't see very often. Claire is a hard-worker with an amazing future as a college athlete. She will continue to get better and better and the sky's the limit with her. Claire is also a tremendous young woman with great character and love for life. She's a perfect fit for our program."
"Courtney is the perfect Zag," said Graves. "She has a high basketball I.Q., loves to compete and is a serious gym rat. A great leader, she is a point guard who can score but also makes others around her better. An amazing three-point shooter, she has an uncanny ability to get into the game and create for herself and others. We are thrilled that someone of Courtney's ability and character is going to be a part of our Gonzaga family." 

RADIO AVAILABLE AT WCC TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga University will have each West Coast Conference Tournament game it participates in broadcast on the radio as Steve Myklebust calls 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 with live audio streaming on www.GoZags.com

FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED: When Gonzaga University earned its win over Pepperdine University on Jan. 7 by limiting the Waves to just 35 points it was the lowest point total the Bulldogs had held a conference opponent to in school history. It also was the second lowest point total allowed by an away team ever in a West Coast Conference game. The lowest point total scored by a home team is 30 scored by Loyola Marymount against San Francisco during the 1988 season.   

100-POINT EXPLOSION: Gonzaga University edged local rival Eastern Washington University in overtime, 103-102, marking the second time this season that a WCC team has eclipsed the 100-point plateau. Saint Mary's scored 100 points in a win over Cal State Northridge on November 24, which was the first time a WCC squad had topped the century mark since San Diego scored 104 points against Portland on February 17, 2005. Loyola Marymount holds the all-time single-game WCC record, dropping in 130 points in a victory over Master's College on November 23, 1990.

SINGLE SEASON RECORDS: Gonzaga University's 103-102 victory over Eastern Washington University, Dec. 9 broke a few Bulldog single-game records. The combined score of 205 is the highest combined total in school history, breaking the old record of 177 scored during a 91-86 loss to Portland during the 1991-92 season. The 33 free throws made by the Zags is the third most scored in a game, while the 45 attempted is the second most attempted. 

A HUGE WIN: Playing against its first ranked opponent of the season, the Gonzaga University women's basketball team showed what it was made of by defeating the 19th ranked UCLA Bruins 62-57 in the first round of the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Tournament. It was the Zags first victory ever over a Top-25 team. The Bulldogs currently are 1-11 against ranked opponents.

ZAGS FACED NATION'S BEST IN HAWAII: Gonzaga  University took the stage with two of the nation's best programs when it played in the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic over Thanksgiving weekend. The Bulldogs defeated 2006 second round participant UCLA in their first contest of the tournament and advanced to the semifinals to play the University of North Carolina; a 2006 Final Four participant.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Gonzaga University senior Stephanie Hawk was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Month for January. Hawk enjoyed an outstanding month of January, as the senior propelled the Zags to the top of the conference standings with a perfect 7-0 start to WCC play. Hawk averaged a double-double on the month with 16.1 points per game, and a conference-high 10.6 boards per contest. The senior also paced the circuit with 15 blocks, averaging 2.14 per game, and moved into second place on the Bulldogs' career blocks chart with 151. The forward shot 44.7 percent (34-for-76) from the field for the Zags and 81.5 percent (44-for-54) from the charity stripe, and garnered WCC Player of the Week honors twice during the month. Hawk also pitched in with 11 assists and 10 steals as the Zags extended their winning streak to eight games. Hawk, who recorded double-doubles in six of Gonzaga's seven games during the month of January, scored a career-high 33 points in an overtime victory against Santa Clara and became just the 12th player in GU program history to eclipse the 1,000 career point's mark in the win.

WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK TIMES FIVE: Gonzaga University senior forward Stephanie Hawk has been named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week five times this season. Hawk earned her most recent honor this past week when she helped Gonzaga capture the WCC regular-season title for the third-straight after the Bulldogs defeated the University of San Diego 71-58 and the University of San Francisco 57-37. Hawk averaged a double-double of 13.0 points and 11.5 rebounds over GU's two victories.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK - AGAIN: Gonzaga University earned its fifth West Coast Conference women's basketball Player of the Week accolade when freshman Heather Bowman garnered the award on Feb 12. Bowman helped Gonzaga hold on to its lead atop the WCC standings, as the freshman averaged 26.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in wins at Saint Mary's and Santa Clara over the weekend. Bowman poured in 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Thursday's win over the Gaels, before collecting her fourth double-double of the season with 28 points and a career-high 15 boards in the win over the Broncos. Bowman shot 19-for-25 (76.0) from the field and was near perfect from the free throw line, hitting 15-of-16 (93.8) from the charity stripe on the week.

WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK - TAKE TWO: Gonzaga University women's basketball player Michelle Elliott was named the West Coast Conference player for the week as announced by the conference office Monday, Nov. 28. Elliott continued to lead the Zags, as the junior propelled GU to a 2-2 mark including an upset victory over then-No. 19 ranked UCLA at the Rainbow Wahine Classic. The transfer from San Diego State scored nine points with seven boards in a victory over Portland State on Tuesday before dropping in 20 points with four rebounds and three assists in the win over the Bruins. After a 10 point, five assist effort against No. 2 ranked North Carolina, the junior racked up 19 points with three steals against host Hawai'i on Sunday. For her efforts, Elliott was also named to the all-tournament team.

GONZAGA DOMINATES WCC ATTENDANCE: Gonzaga University led the West Coast Conference in attendance for the third-straight season as the Bulldogs averaged 1,250 fans a season ago. GU had more than 1,000 fans at all 13 home games last season including a season-high 2,582 when Gonzaga defeated the University of Portland on Jan. 29. Gonzaga has had strong attendance numbers this season as the Bulldogs drew an average of 1,492 fans over its 14 home games, including a season-high 3,418 at their game against Arizona State University.

WCC OWNS NO. 1 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: A large contributing factor in the WCC's No. 8 RPI ranking is the Conference's schedule strength. According to the Collegiate Basketball News RPI report, the WCC has clearly played the toughest schedule in the country. Gonzaga, well known for playing a demanding non-conference schedule, headlines six WCC schools ranked in the top 70 in the country in schedule strength. The Zags (9), are followed by Loyola Marymount (45), Pepperdine (49), Saint Mary's (52), Santa Clara (67), and San Francisco (70). Portland (129) and San Diego (139) rounding out the rest of the WCC schools, making the league the only Division I conference in the country with all of its member institutions in the top 140 in strength of schedule.