Zags Women, Men Dancin' in NCAA Tournament
Gonzaga News Service
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga men's and women's basketball teams are dancin' in the NCAA Tournament, again, on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. This marks the 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament berth (21st overall) for the men – No. 8 in both major polls this week – and 10th overall for the women.
The No. 4 seed in the West, the (30-4) men take on No. 13 seed University of North Carolina-Greensboro (27-7) at 10:30 a.m. (PST) Thursday at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho (TV: TNT). The No. 13 seed women (27-5) battle No. 4 seed Stanford (22-10) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Stanford's Maples Pavilion (TV: ESPN2) in the Lexington, Kentucky bracket. The winner of the men's contest will face the winner of the No. 5-seed Ohio State vs. No. 12 South Dakota game on Saturday. The women's game winner plays the winner of the No. 3 Missouri-No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast game on Monday.
Led by fourth-year Coach Lisa Fortier, the Zags captured their second consecutive West Coast Conference Tournament (eighth overall) by defeating San Diego 79-71, powered by 32 points from Jill Barta, the tournament's most outstanding player for the second straight year. Zykera Rice added 17 points and Emma Stach had 14 points to join the All-Tournament Team. This team set a new conference record with 17 conference wins this season.
The Zags have won 13 of the last 14 WCC titles (14 in program history). They are 5-4 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The first and only four-seed they faced was Pittsburgh in 2009 in a second-round game in Seattle that they lost 65-60. GU fell 75-62 to Oklahoma in a first-round game in Seattle last season. They are 1-7 all-time against Stanford (since 2009), but beat the Cardinal 68-63 at Maples Pavilion when they last met in 2016.
This marks the ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years for the Zags who are 10-9 all-time in the tournament with four trips to the Sweet 16 and one to the Elite Eight.
Stanford earned an at-large berth after losing to Oregon in the Pacific-12 Conference tournament title.
Gonzaga's 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament berths is the nation's fourth-longest current streak (Kansas, Duke, Michigan State). Gonzaga is 29-20 all-time in 20 previous NCAA Tournament appearances with eight trips to the Sweet 16, three to the Elite Eight, and last season's appearance in the Final Four and national championship game. GU is 26-18 in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Mark Few with a berth in all 18 of Few's previous seasons as head coach.
Killian Tillie was named the WCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player after a three-game performance that included 72 points (24.0 ppg), shooting 28-of-36 (77.8 percent) from the field and making 13 of 14 three-pointers, including 11-straight. Silas Melson's 124 career wins leads the nation among active players; he is second in program history for most career victories behind former teammate, Przemek Karnowski (137, the most in D-I history).
Gonzaga and Kansas are the only teams to win their opening-round NCAA Tournament game each of the last nine seasons. As a single-digit seed, the Bulldogs are 20-14 all-time and 11-2 in first-round games. This is the second four-seed for the Zags who will play an NCAA Tournament game in Boise, Idaho, for the first time. Few's teams are 19-5 (.792) as the higher seed (13-1 since 2009). Few's teams have attained seven upset wins in his 18 previous NCAA Tournaments.
UNC-Greensboro beat East Tennessee State in the Southern Conference Tournament Championships, 62-47, on March 5. The top-seeded Spartans held ETSU to 30 percent shooting from the field, including 3-of-16 from three-point range.
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