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GCU Women’s Club Basketball secures third seed in AWBL playoffs

February 13, 2020

By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff

The Lopes are ready for the playoffs.

In their final games of the regular season, the GCU Women’s Club Basketball Team 1 and Team 2 each went 1-1 over the weekend.

After suffering losses to Bella Vista College Prep 1 and Bella Vista College Prep 2 on Saturday morning, the Lopes pulled out victories on Monday night, including a dominating win from Team 1 over Park University and Team 2’s first Arizona Women’s Basketball League (AWBL) win off a Benedictine University forfeit. 

Saturday: Bella Vista College Prep 2 76, GCU Team 2 34

Both teams struggled to start, with the Lopes trailing, 12-7, after the first quarter.

“We keep coming out slow,” said GCU Women’s Club Basketball Team 2 Head Coach Andrew Zemlicka. “We just need to come ready to play to every game and compete.”

Bella Vista’s offense quickly picked up, with two players, Elena Golemi and Valerie Van Dijk scoring over 20 points each.

Katelyn Nelson was the lone Lopes’ player in double digits with 11 points.

“Our defense is getting better, but we’re still struggling on offense,” said Zemlicka. “It takes time to build that chemistry with the team, so it’ll get there.”

Saturday: Bella Vista College Prep 1 66, GCU Team 1 52

The Lopes opened strong with a three-pointer from senior Jenny Albano to start the game. They maintained a slim lead all the way to halftime, and took a 32-28 lead into the break.

The Lopes’ offense faltered in the second half, scoring just 20 points after the break. Andrea Jovicevic’s 17 second-half points powered the Bears’ comeback. Jayden Bies led the Lopes with 10 points.

Monday: GCU Team 1 84, Park University 45

In a battle for the third seed in the AWBL Standings, GCU Team 1 ended the suspense early, scoring the first 20 points of the game against Park University. The impressive first half was sealed by a half-court shot off the hands of Na’Lon Smith at the buzzer to give the Lopes a 47-28 cushion at halftime.

“I think they’re just playing together as a team and trusting each other a lot more,” said GCU Team 1 Head Coach Kyle Speed. “More players are stepping up and making plays. We’re not just relying on one or two girls, and that’s a huge benefit.”

The 84 points is a season-high this year for the Lopes. Na’Lon Smith paced the Lopes’ offense with 17 points, while Cassandra Ibarra added 15.

Playoffs:

GCU Team 1 ended the regular season with a 6-3 record and clinched the third seed heading into the playoffs.

“This week, we need to tighten up on our defense if we’re going to win the championship,” said Speed. “It’s three back-to-back games, so we have to make sure we’re conditioned and ready to go.”

Despite their win off a forfeit from Benedictine University Monday, GCU Team 2 ended the regular season with a 1-8 record and remained last in the AWBL Standings.  Because Benedictine will not be participating in the tournament, Team 2 sits at the sixth seed going into playoffs.

“It’s anyone’s game,” said Zemlicka. “No matter what seed you are, you’ve still got 40 minutes of a game to play. If (our opponent) comes out slacking, we’re going to take advantage of that.”

GCU Team 1 and GCU Team 2 will go head-to-head in the first round of playoffs at 10 am on Saturday, Feb. 15 in the Canyon Activity Center. The winner will advance to play Bella Vista in the semifinals at 11:30 am, followed by the championship game at 1 pm. Admission to the playoff tournament is free.

Interested in GCU Club Basketball? Visit the GCU club sports page for more information!