The Gonzaga women’s basketball team had its first exhibition of the season at this year’s Fan Fest on Saturday, Oct. 12.
The event opened with an introduction of the players by head coach Lisa Fortier, where she announced that junior guard Jill Townsend would be participating. Townsend had been in rehabilitation after suffering a leg injury in last year’s West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas.
“We have the most faithful, concerned, caring fans there is in the nation,” Townsend said. “It’s what makes this such a special place to play.”
After the introduction, the team had a short 3-point contest. In the first round, senior Katie Campbell beat out junior Louise Forsyth 20 to eight. Next, senior transfer Cierra Walker took the floor against veteran Zag Jessie Loera. Loera barely got the edge, converting 14 shots to Walker’s 12. Loera and Campbell then faced off for the championship, where Loera took home the crown 18 to 12.
After this, the players went back to their benches to warm up for the main event, a scrimmage between the players. The blue team was captained by LeeAnne Wirth while the red team was captained by her sister Jenn Wirth.
The red team was off to a quick start, with two baskets by Jenn Wirth and Campbell. On its next possession, freshman Kayleigh Troung drove toward the hoop and ran into a wall in Townsend. This drew a foul and brought the red team to a 6 – 2 lead.
The teams fought hard against each other for the next six and a half minutes and entered half time with the red squad leading 12 – 11. Despite blue leading in field goal percentage, red was 5 for 5 on free throws.
Blue was not slow to reclaim the lead after halftime, as Loera and Walker netted a pair of scores to push their team ahead 15-12. After a couple more back-and-forth scores, blue entered the fourth quarter with an 18 – 15 lead.
Both teams' defenses picked up for the final quarter, with neither side able to score. However, a foul on Forsyth allowed Anamaria Virjoghe to take the blue team to a four-point lead at 20-16 with 20 seconds left. The blue team held on for the victory.
“It was so much fun to see all our returning fans from last year,” LeeAnne Wirth said. “It’s finally back, we’ve been waiting forever.”
She said FanFest was very important for seeing who could step up as leaders to fill the holes left by graduating players.
Fortier said she was pleased with what she saw on the court.
“We did not turn the ball over as we have in the past and I think that is because we have such a veteran cast,” Fortier said. “We have experience, we know where we are supposed to be.”