Mar 28

Gonzaga-Tennessee Preview

<!– google_ad_section_start –> SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Tennessee is used to playing before large hostile crowds. In fact, some players seem to enjoy it.”When the other team’s fans are booing us, we say: ‘They love us, they love us,”’ said Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick.Second-seeded Tennessee is really going to feel the love Saturday when the Lady Vols face 11th-seeded Gonzaga in its hometown. The Sweet 16 matchup in Spokane won’t be on the Zags’ home court yet their campus is only approximately a mile away so a large rooting section is to be expected.Burdick said a hostile environment doesn’t bother the players. ”You are so in the zone you hardly hear anything,” she said.Tennessee (29-5), which is making its longest trip ever to a regional, received here by winning two games at home, The winner of this game plays the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Maryland & No. 4 seed Duke.Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, a long-time Vols assistant who replaced Pat Summitt, said she respects Gonzaga’s program.”They’re a veteran team,” Warlick said. ”They’re dangerous.”Statistically, the programs are very similar, although Gonzaga likes to shoot more 3-pointers & spreads the floor out more, Warlick said.The balanced Tennessee offense is led by Ariel Massengale, Bashaara Graves, & Burdick, all of whom are averaging double-digit scoring. Leading scorer Isabelle Harrison was lost for the season in February with a torn ACL.Gonzaga (26-7) is led by first-year coach Lisa Fortier, who replaced Kelly Graves after he went to Oregon.The Zags upset third-seeded Oregon State last weekend, their record eighth win as a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.The Zags are stoked to be playing in front of a friendly crowd, yet that won’t decide the game, guard Elle Tinkle said.”We didn’t have to travel far, yet we still have to come out & play our best,” said Tinkle.The two upset wins in Corvallis are in the past, & the team must remain focused on winning Saturday, she said.”We knew we were not satisfied with just making the Sweet 16,” Tinkle said. ”We don’t want to be done yet.”Fortier noted that the West Coast Conference doesn’t have many physical teams like Tennessee. …

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