By: Garrett Osterode/ GCU Staff
Year 2 of the Arizona Women’s Basketball League, commissioned by GCU Club Sports and hosted at the Canyon Activity Center, began in rough fashion for both teams of GCU Women’s Club Basketball. GCU White opened Monday night’s games with a 74-41 loss at the hands of Bella Vista College Preparatory Team 2, while GCU Purple, the Lopes’ top team, dropped its first game of the season, 80-56, to Bella Vista Prep Team 1 in a rematch of last year’s AWBL Championship Game.
Bella Vista College Prep 1 80, GCU Purple 56
“They’re the champions for a reason. If you’re going to beat them, you have to play a full game.”
In what had the makings of an epic rematch to start their respective seasons, the Bears of Bella Vista 1 did an excellent job of deflating the energy in the building early and often, jumping out to a scorching 10-0 lead over GCU Purple.
The Lopes did battle back, rallying to cut the deficit to five points heading into the second quarter. Despite inching their way back, the Lopes never led nor came within five points again as the Bears went into halftime with a commanding 37-27 lead.
“They caught us on a good night,” said GCU Purple Head Coach Kyle Speed. “There are no excuses, and that is a really well-coached team. They just beat us all night.”
The second half was more of the same as the Lopes again started out slowly, then battled to cut into Bella Vista’s lead to no avail. GCU’s Sam Ibarra was a big part of the Lopes’ second-half effort, pouring in two 3-pointers and leading the attack as the point guard off the bench.
“I was on her about being aggressive, and today, she took leaps forward,” said Speed. “I am really excited to see what she can continue to bring this season.”
Bella Vista College Prep 2 74, GCU White 41
The Lopes began their second year in the AWBL with a team full of fresh faces and a roster that includes eight freshman and just two upperclassmen. Despite the inexperience, the Lopes came out firing, jumping out to a quick 6-4 lead.
“We came out the first quarter, and we were attacking,” said GCU White Head Coach Andrew Zemlicka. “I loved to see that energy out of them.”
The Lopes, however, were taking on a much bigger opponent in the Bears, a squad with more than half of their players checking in at over 6-feet tall. The Bears’ size and skill powered them to a 23-5 run to end the first half and take control of the game. Isik Demirbacak led the Bears with 15 points on the night, while Sahra Genc added 14.
“They were very tough to defend,” said Zemlicka. “They were much bigger than us, and I don’t think we were quite ready for size like that.”
The Lopes’ main offensive bright spot was Katelyn Nelson, who led the way with 14 points on the night, including two 3-pointers.
“Moving forward, I think we will be just fine,” said Zemlicka. “We are a pretty young team, so it’s important to get game time in.”
This Saturday, Nov. 7, AWBL play continues as GCU Purple takes on Bella Vista College Prep 2 at 10 am, while GCU White battles Bella Vista College Prep 1 in the Canyon Activity Center at noon. Admission is FREE.
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