By: Ruby Arani/ GCU Staff
Get knocked down, and ready to get back up.
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Basketball Purple suffered the team’s first loss in the Arizona Women’s Basketball League (AWBL) Tuesday night against the Bears of Bella Vista College Preparatory, 69-56. At the same time on an adjacent court at the Canyon Activity Center on the GCU campus, GCU White lost a close game against the Redhawks of Benedictine University, 60-51.
Bella Vista College Prep 69, GCU Purple 56
The Lopes took advantage of cold shooting by the Bears to take a 16-9 lead to end the first quarter. Like the Bears in the first quarter, the Lopes then hit the offensive skids, scoring just one field goal in the second quarter to trail BVCP at halftime, 30-19.
After halftime, it was Bella Vista’s turn to go chilly from the field, allowing GCU to battle back within 5 points with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Foul trouble then sent two of GCU’s top scorers, Jaiviana James and Megan Wall, to the bench, swinging the momentum in the Bears’ direction, who extended the lead back to double digits going into the fourth quarter, 44-33. The fourth quarter was a dramatic course of free throws, but it wasn’t enough for the Lopes to avoid their first loss in AWBL play.
Wall led the Lopes in scoring with 13 points, with Daeja Banner contributing another 12 points, with six points to help close the gap in the third quarter.
“The game started great for us,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kyle Speed. “We jumped out in the first quarter with a solid lead, but in the second quarter we dropped the ball. Bella Vista did a great job on the defensive end making it tough on us. We didn’t convert when we had opportunities, and it’s hard to win with those odds.”
Benedictine University 60, GCU White 51
Unlike their last few games in which GCU allowed their opponent to begin the game with a long scoring run, while the Lopes were still playing catch-up to their opponents, there was no early blowout. The Lopes trailed by 10 points after one quarter, and went into halftime trailing the Redhawks, 36-27.
The Lopes answered every BenU rally in the third quarter, and cut an eight-point deficit after three quarters down to a single possession midway through the 4th, 49-47 – thanks to three-pointers from Alexis Rodriguez and Alisia Trejo. The Lopes then tired down the stretch, scoring just four points in the final five minutes.
“The commitment to play as a team was the difference maker this game,” said Lopes’ Assistant Coach Hannah Bolton. “The desire to win was there that game, and they believed they could do it and came close.”
“The team is still young,” said Bolton. “We are still learning college basketball, so our speed of play hurts us in moments in the game – both offensively and defensively.”
Lopes’ freshman Lauren De Santos led the balanced effort with 11 points, while Trejo and Paige Johnson chipped in 10 points apiece.
“Johnson continues to be a leader for us,” said Bolton. “She hit some big 3s for us to keep us in it in the second half.”
Preparing for NIRSA Regional Tournament
Next weekend, GCU Purple will be preparing for the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association Regional Tournament that is hosted at the University of California, Los Angeles. Last year, the Lopes pulled off an impressive comeback to win the NIRSA Regional Tournament, and then reached the quarterfinals of the NIRSA National Championships a month later.
To get ready for NIRSA, Speed knows the AWBL has set the Lopes up for success.
“I love the AWBL,” said Speed. “The competition is good, and it gives our girls the opportunity to compete at a high level. The games are full college games, which will help us with conditioning because NIRSA has a running clock.
“In preparation for NIRSA, we are making sure everyone is on the same page with what we need to do,” said Speed. “We will be going over all our plays and adding late game plays we may need in the instance we are in a tight game.”
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