Lopes’ NIRSA hopes cut short
By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up,” Galatians 6:9.
“This group was full of fighters on and off the court, so this verse really speaks to the character of who we were this season,” said Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Basketball Head Coach Kyle Speed.
The 2019-20 Lopes’ season was full of overcoming adversity. Despite starting off their season with two losses, GCU Team 1 turned a new leaf and ended the season with a 9-6 record. Team 2 struggled to find their rhythm from the beginning, ending their season with a 1-12 overall record.
GCU Team 1
The Lopes’ journey began with two losses to the defending Arizona Women’s Basketball League (AWBL) champions, Bella Vista College Prep. However, the new year seemed to be a turning point for the team. GCU started 2020 with two tight victories over Bella Vista, which sparked success for the remainder of the season.
“The comeback game against Bella Vista was a great moment for the team,” said Speed. “Being down 12 points heading into the fourth quarter, and coming back to win the game on a last second shot was a lot of fun.”
One player that helped contribute to the team’s success was junior Angela Shasha.
“Angela showed up every day ready to work and get better, and she was a consistent 3-point shooter for us this season,” said Speed. “I am looking forward to having her back next season, and expect big things from her in her senior year.”
Along with Shasha, the Lopes had many athletes step into leadership roles.
“Karlee Souve really stepped up and showed a lot about herself this season,” said Speed. “Jenny Albano and Daeja Banner also did a great job of leading the team. They were four-year starters in the program, so my expectations for them as leaders were really high. They did a great job of showing up and leading by example every day, and I am really going to miss these girls next season.”
After a late run where the Lopes won seven of eight games, including victories over Bella Vista, Park University, Arizona Christian University, and Benedictine University, the Lopes contended for the AWBL Championship Game, but fell in the title game to Bella Vista, 66-62.
In what would be their last games of the season, GCU hosted and competed in the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Region VI Championships, where they ultimately went 2-2 for the tournament, including a loss to California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) in the quarterfinals.
Despite the loss, the team still had hopes of advancing to the NIRSA National Basketball Championships at Wichita State University in April, but the tournament was ultimately cancelled due to the coronavirus.
GCU Team 2
GCU Team 2, coached by Grand Canyon University student Andrew Zemlicka, struggled to get everything to come together. Team 2 also competed in the AWBL Playoffs, where they were defeated by GCU Team 1 in the quarterfinals. The Lopes also competed in the NIRSA Regionals, where they fell to the University of Oregon and Cal Poly.
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