Gonzaga (1-1) dropped out of the AP poll after losing to unranked Southern California in its season opener. But the Zags have a chance to wiggle back into the national limelight with a good showing or win against No. 3 Stanford (1-0) on Sunday.
That matchup is a rematch of last season’s 105-74 Stanford win in Palo Alto, Ca. The Cardinal was ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time. Both teams are drastically different from then, however, Stanford getting stronger with freshman Chiney Ogwumike – the top recruit in the country.
Here’s senior PG Courtney Vandersloot and coach Kelly Graves talking about the game:
SANTIAGO OUT: G Kristina Santiago, the reigning Big West Conference Player of the Year, is out for the season with a left ACL injury. She’s expected to have surgery in December, redshirting this season and returning to play next year.
Santiago, who averaged 19.5 points as a junior, suffered the injury with 17:51 remaining in the opening half of Cal Poly’s season-opening win against Seattle University on Nov. 12. She drove to the hoop and was fouled by SU junior Salena Dickerson.
“I was just driving toward the basket,” Santiago told San Luis Obispo reporters. “My foot planted, and I kind of got hit twisting and just tweaked my knee. It’s like the worst thing that can happen two minutes into the game. More than anything, it just sucked.”
Dickerson, who leads Seattle U. in scoring at 12.5, said the injury affected her team’s play. Upset at the sight, Cal Poly (2-0) attacked harder while SU dropped their heads. Seattle U. also was dealing with meshing six new faces on its roster.
“She’s a really good player,” Dickerson said of Santiago after the game. “It’s hard to see any player go down. I just really feel for her and wish her the best of luck with her recovery.”
The Redhawks (0-2) depart Thursday evening for a two-game road trip in California. Up first is UC Riverside (1-1) on Friday. SU, an independent in its second season returning to Division I, won one road game last season.
Friday’s game is the Redhawks’ third consecutive against a Big West opponent. Coach Joan Bonvicini expects to utilize her third different starting lineup of the season as she continues to find the right combinations on the court.
“We played like we just met,” Bonvicini said Thursday of the Cal Poly matchup. “We had a very good week of practice. The thing with us is how quickly we get that chemistry together. That’s when we’ll really start taking off.”