Women's basketball: Fortier on VanDerveer's historic win, Cougs head to LA, Eags keep winning and Maisie Burnham soaring

Jan. 25—Tara VanDerveer's cellphone was flooded with texts after she became the winningest coach in college basketball last weekend.

VanDerveer tied former Duke men's coach Mike Krzyzewski at 1,202 wins last Thursday when her Stanford team beat Oregon. The Cardinal gave VanDerveer the 1,203rd win on Sunday against Oregon State.

Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier was among those to send VanDerveer a text.

"She said on TV that a lot of people had reached out and I was one of them," Fortier said. "It's great that it's going to be a women's basketball coach at the top of the list. She's one of the best to ever do it. She does it with integrity and class, honesty and hard work. I'm grateful to have worked her camps when I was a kid."

In arguably their best game of the season, the Zags upset then No. 3-ranked Stanford 96-78 at McCarthy Athletic Center in early December.

Fortier is 3-6 against VanDerveer.

"Being able to play her every year, she's become a friend," Fortier said.

VanDerveer got her start in coaching just down the road at Idaho. The Vandals went 17-6 in VanDerveer's first season in 1978-79 and 25-6 in the second year.

Cougars head to L.A.

After a 0-3 start in the Pac-12, Washington State pulled even at 3-3 with a sweep of Arizona State and Arizona last weekend.

The Cougars are tied for sixth with Southern Cal at 3-3.

WSU faces its stiffest challenge of the season this weekend. The Cougars visit 11th-ranked Southern Cal (13-3) on Friday and second-ranked UCLA (15-1, 4-2) on Sunday.

Before talking about the challenge ahead, WSU coach Kamie Ethridge praised her team for bouncing back after the sluggish start to conference.

"Excited about what we've done the last two weeks," Ethridge said. "I kind of put that challenge to our team a couple of weeks ago ... that home games were going to be key, as big of games as we've had in our program. Clearly we took care of business and played good basketball."

Ethridge isn't going to tinker with her team's strategy at this point in the season.

"We just stay with what we are and who we are," she said. "We've taken care of the ball and been successful. We're about to play teams that are significantly bigger than us. That's a challenge to rebound and keep people off the boards.

"Things like that will beat you if you give up too many second-chance points."

Ethridge is looking for consistency, especially on defense.

"This is a hard weekend to match up with these two teams because they're a little bit different," Ethridge said. "USC and UCLA are really good at creating easy shots in the first 10, 12, 15 seconds of offense. We're just trying to get to the second 15."

Big Sky showdowns

Eastern Washington (15-3, 5-0) takes on the two closest teams in the standings in road games.

The Eagles travel to Northern Colorado (9-1, 4-1) on Thursday and finish at Northern Arizona (12-6, 4-1) on Saturday.

EWU has won nine in a row.

"This is a huge road trip for us," EWU coach Joddie Gleason said. "Both of the teams are playing well and they play especially well at home. It's definitely a tough weekend, for sure."

Gleason has been pleased with her team's defense in Big Sky play.

"Our overall defensive effort and intensity have been good," Gleason said. "We're a veteran team. They understand our principles."

Gleason said Northern Colorado shoots the ball well at home and NAU wants to score in the 80s.

"We have to slow (NAU) down and get them to play in the half court," Gleason said.

Zags headed to Bay Area

Gonzaga's lead in the West Coast Conference grew to two games Monday.

That's when Saint Mary's upset Portland 73-67 in overtime in Portland. The game was postponed Saturday because of poor weather.

Gonzaga (18-2, 5-0) leads Pacific, Portland, Santa Clara and San Francisco — all of which have two losses.

The Zags visit Santa Clara (15-5, 3-2) on Thursday. The Broncos handed Gonzaga its lone conference loss last year.

Gonzaga heads to San Francisco (7-11, 3-2) on Saturday.

Early WCC results suggest it should be a dogfight for second place.

"San Francisco got off to a little bit of a rocky start, but they're playing well," Fortier said. "Santa Clara is significantly better in all statistical categories at home. They know the last time we played down there how it worked out for them. Lots of things to get ready for."

This Pilot can fly

In Portland's overtime loss Monday, EWU transfer Maisie Burnham had a double-double for the Pilots.

The former Liberty (Spangle) High standout had 17 points and 14 rebounds. It's the first double-double of her Portland career.

Portland (11-8, 3-2) was picked to finish second in the WCC.

Record for most games

Gonzaga graduate point guard Kaylynne Truong has earned the distinction of playing in the most games by a Zag.

Truong has played in 145 games and benefits from having a COVID season. She passed Elle Tinkle (143) last week.

Truong could play at least 13 more games — including two WCC Tournament games but not including NCAA Tournament.

"It means a lot," Truong said. "I told someone I feel a little old because it's wear and tear on your body. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to play. I give all the glory to God for keeping me healthy."

More honors

WSU senior point guard Charlisse Leger-Walker has been named an Ann Meyers-Drysdale top-10 finalist, the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced Tuesday.

For a third straight season, the three-time All-American is up for the annual award presented to the best shooting guard in NCAA Division I.

The final five candidates for the award will be released to the public on a day-to-day basis starting the week of March 4. The list is fluid throughout the whole process and players have the ability to play on or off the finalist list.

—Gonzaga was named Week 12's NCAA Team of the Week after extending its home winning streak to 29 games and overall streak to 12.

The Zags' last loss was 81-70 to Louisville on Nov. 26 in Katy, Texas.

—Gonzaga coach Fortier is on another watch list, and she's joined by EWU coach Gleason.

Fortier and Gleason were named to the 2024 Kathy Delaney-Smith Coach of the Year Award Midseason Watch List.

This is the inaugural season for the award. It's named after the legendary former Harvard head coach.

—EWU guard Jamie Loera earned co-Big Sky Player of the Week honors after averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and 6.5 assists in the Eagles' two victories.