AP NEWS

Fortier named WCC Coach of the Year; Rice, Smith, Stockton on first team

March 5, 2019

For the fourth time in her five years in charge of the Gonzaga women’s basketball program, Lisa Fortier is the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

The Zags also placed all three seniors – Laura Stockton, Zykera Rice and Chandler Smith on the all-WCC first team, the conference announced Tuesday.

Gonzaga was the preseason favorite to win the regular-season title, but the Zags exceeded even those expectations by going 27-3 overall and 16-2 in the conference. It’s GU’s third season in a row with 20 or more wins.

Heading into the WCC tournament, GU is ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll and 13th in the Rating Percentage Index or RPI.

The Bulldogs have been ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ Polls for 14 consecutive weeks, and Gonzaga is in contention to host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games later this month.

A second-team pick last year, Rice made the 10-player first squad this season after leading the Zags in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg) to rank 11th and 15th in the conference, respectively.

Rice ranks ranks third in the conference in field goal percentage at 52.2 percent and was twice named WCC Player of the Week. She scored in double figures in all but two of 18 conference games.

Like Rice, fellow senior Smith moved up from the second team to the first. She was ranked second on the team in both scoring (9.3 ppg) and rebounding 5.2 rpg).

Smith grabbed at least five rebounds in 11 different WCC contests and dished out at least three assists nine times.

Stockton, an honorable mention pick two years ago, ranked fourth in the conference with 4.3 assists per game, and moved into third all-time in career assists in GU history with her first assist of the night at Santa Clara on Feb. 21.

Stockton averaged 9.1 points per game, good for a tie for third on the team, and led the Zags in scoring three times during conference play.

Sophomore Jill Townsend was named All-WCC Honorable Mention for the first time in her career.

Pepperdine senior Yasmine Robinson-Bacote, the WCC scoring leader at 20.4 ppg, is the Player of the Year.

Pacific’s Valerie Higgins was the Defensive Player of the Year while BYU freshman Shaylee Gonzales was named Newcomer of the Year.