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Gonzaga women return from Las Vegas with focus turned to NCAA Tournament

March 14, 2019

Back in Spokane after a tough week in Las Vegas, the Gonzaga women’s basketball team is ready to regroup.

On Monday, the Zags lost guards Laura Stockton and Jill Townsend to injury. A day later, they also lost the West Coast Conference championship game to BYU 82-68.

However, they’re assured of a third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament. On Monday, they will learn their seed and destination.

“We obviously didn’t have the outcome we wanted, but the team has done so well and played so well together this year that they’ve put themselves in a position where we get to keep playing,” assistant coach Jordan Green said.

Green took over for head coach Lisa Fortier after she hurriedly departed the Orleans Arena in the fourth quarter to see her ailing brother in a Las Vegas hospital.

Hayden Mispley died Wednesday morning, Gonzaga officials confirmed in a release to staff and faculty.

“It just puts things in perspective about how much bigger the world is than basketball,” senior Zykera Rice said after Tuesday’s game.

The players will return to the practice floor later this week, although the GU athletic department didn’t announce a schedule.

Likewise, the school didn’t offer information on the severity of the injuries to Stockton and Townsend. Both players were on crutches for Tuesday’s game, offering support to their teammates.

Despite the loss, Gonzaga (28-4) fell only one spot, to 14th, in the Rating Percentage Index, or RPI, which is updated daily.

Going into the WCC Tournament, the Zags were predicted by most bracketologists to earn a No. 5 seed after posting the best regular-season record in school history.

That didn’t change on Wednesday.

ESPN bracketologist Charlie Crème still had the Zags a No. 5 seed, playing 12th-seeded Belmont in a foursome hosted by Iowa State.

Based on geography and the other likely No. 4 seeds, GU could be sent to four-team pods hosted by Texas A&M and Oregon State.

The NCAA tournament begins on March 22.

“We will be in the NCAA Tournament and the team will learn from what happened here,” Green said.