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Jim Allen | The Spokeman-Review | December 21, 2018

Gonzaga's Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth rely on each other on, off the basketball court

Andy Katz chats with Gonzaga's Laura Stockton

Better than the rest of us, twins know how to share.

That includes the limelight.

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After a recent home win over Washington State, sophomore forward LeeAnne Wirth was front and center with the media cameras.

She certainly deserved it after hitting 6 of 7 shots for 12 points in 19 minutes of action. Her sister Jenn was also there, standing behind the media with a big smile.

Jenn's grin grew after LeeAnne praised her coaches, her fellow post players -- "and Jenn, who has helped me a lot."

Because that's what twins do, on and off the court.

Physically, they're almost indistinguishable. Both are a lean 6-foot-3 and wear the same ponytail.

The differences lurk just below the surface.

"I want to say that we we're really different, but we're really not that different," LeeAnne said.

"I think I'm more outgoing, initially," said Jenn, though LeeAnne wasn't sure.

"Some people are more intimidated of Jenn because she takes a second more to warm up," LeeAnne said.

On the court, the twins are a big reason the Zags are 11-1 and off to the best start in school history

Coach Lisa Fortier likes to substitute freely, but one of the twins is sure to be on the court at any given moment — though rarely at the same time.

Case in point: the game against WSU, in which LeeAnne got the start and played 19 minutes. Jenn came off the bench, getting 21 minutes and going 3 for 4 from the field.

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That wasn't the plan going into the season, especially when LeeAnne suffered some minor off-season injuries.

But Jenn, a presumptive starter, broke the index finger in her shooting hand just before the season opener and missed seven games.

"It was really tough," Jenn said. "Obviously, I had a different vision for how the season was going to start, but you have to take what comes and roll with it."

Certainly the Zags are rolling after wins over then-No. 8 Stanford, WSU and Missouri State. Their inside game is a big reason: GU is a plus-four on the boards and is regularly outscoring opponents in the paint.

Starting all 11 games, LeeAnne averages 6.5 points and 4.3 boards, while Jenn averages 8.8 and 5, respectively.

Their success was the product of talent and hard work, though bloodlines certainly helped. Their father Alan, a 6-4 pitcher, played in the early 1980s for the Oakland Athletics. Older sister Christina played for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA.

They were recruited out of a successful program at Seton Catholic Preparatory school in Arizona.

"They were so open to coaching and took it so easily," said assistant coach Craig Fortier, who works with post players.

Both got big minutes last year as true freshmen, a move that paid off when Jill Barta left the program with a year to play.

Jenn has helped fill the gap with a more physical style of play and offensive skills "that come to her a little bit easier," Fortier said.

LeeAnne is a bit more defensive-minded and relies on finesse. But after the WSU game, LeeAnne smiled as she talked about physical play.

"I've been trying got in my share of blocks, and work on going up stronger," LeeAnne said.

LeeAnne glanced at her sister. Both were smiling. 

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This article is written by Jim Allen from The Spokesman-Review and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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