Women’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen Preview: #11 Gonzaga vs. #2 Tennessee


Gonzaga (26-7) vs. Tennessee (29-5)

When: Saturday, March 28 at 4:00 pm Pacific


Radio: The Key 1050 AM (Spokane, WA)

Meet the Teams


Like a rocket ship, the Gonzaga women have exploded into the NCAA Tournament, easily defeating #6 seed George Washington and then winning against #3 Oregon State on their home court in Corvallis. Two upsets, all in one weekend.

Now it’s Gonzaga’s turn to play in front of their hometown fans at the Spokane Arena, a regular host for NCAA Tournament games that is less than a mile from the Gonzaga campus and their home arena.. The winners of the two games on Saturday will play in the Regional Final game (Elite Eight) on Monday evening. Monday’s winner will advance to the Final Four in Tampa Bay, Florida and play on April 5th.

The Gonzaga women’s program is no stranger to the Sweet Sixteen or advancing to the Elite Eight after making eight tournament appearances in the last nine years. That experience and tradition will be valuable and give confidence to the players. Playing well in their first two tournament games is definitely a huge boost.

Regular anchors Keani Albanez, Sunny Greinacher and Elle Tinkle were effective against George Washington and Oregon State. Redshirt freshman Emma Wolfram surprised everyone with her off the bench performance against Oregon State where she collected 17 points.


The #2 seed in the Spokane region, Tennessee defeated Boise State and Pittsburgh to arrive in Spokane. The Lady Vols have a long tradition of NCAA tournament appearances having played in 34 of them, almost all of them under legendary Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt.

SEC All-Tournament and Coaches’ First Team member forward Cierra Burdick averages 10.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game to lead Tennessee, a team known for its “inside out” style of play. She is joined by capable point guard and fellow senior Ariel Massengale (11.2 points per game) and Bashaara Graves (11.2 points and 7 rebounds.)

Big 6’3” center Isabelle Harrison is the team’s leading rebounder with 8.6 rebounds in addition to 12.2 points per game. But thankfully, the Zags will not have to deal with here as she has not played since a season ending ACL injury suffered in February.

More from 2015 NCAA Tournament

The Tennessee roster also sports two Portland, Oregon ladies in Jamie Nared and Jordan Reynolds together with Springfield, Oregon native Mercedes Russell. If the Nared name sounds familiar, it’s because Jamie is the sister of former Saint Mary’s star Jackie Nared.

Regardless of the final outcome of this game, it is an honor to have two storied women’s basketball programs under one roof in Spokane. The Zags will be challenged by the size and athleticism of the Lady Vols, so they will need to bring their very best. But between having two upsets already under their belt and playing in their own backyard with a lot of support, the Zags will likely go into this one confident they have a fighting shot.

It’s very rare for a WCC team to get a shot at a legendary program like Tennesse, so expect the conference’s best program to make the most of their opportunity.

The game can be seen on Saturday at 4:00pm Pacific on ESPN.