By: Ruby Arani/ GCU Staff
In an attempt to earn their second straight regional crown, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Basketball team dominated their way into the championship game of the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Region VI Tournament, but fell short in the title matchup against the University of Wisconsin, 38-27. The loss was the only one suffered by the Lopes in the two-day tournament held at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Lopes blazed their way through pool play Saturday by beating the University of the Pacific, 57-25, and Claremont College, 50-24. That sent the Lopes to the tournament quarterfinals, where they downed California State University Chico, 47-37. In the semi-finals against California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the Lopes took a four-point lead at halftime, then ran away in the second half for a 51-37 win that sent them back to the finals for the second straight season.
The Lopes put their 4-0 tournament record up against UW in the title game. The Lopes led the Badgers by two at halftime, but couldn’t finish the job in the second half. The Badgers claimed a 38-27 victory and the championship over the Lopes.
“It was a battle,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Kyle Speed. “They just made a few more shots than we did down the stretch of the game to pull away with the championship.”
Lopes’ senior Megan Wall earned NIRSA All-Tournament honors.
“I agree. She had the best weekend overall,” said Speed. “Wall was a key contributor inside, outside and on the boards. I am proud of the way they competed, and we gave ourselves the opportunity to defend our title.”
The Lopes are returning to the Canyon Activity Center to battle for another title: the first-ever AWBL championship.
On Thursday, March 14, GCU Purple will put their 8-1 AWBL record up against Bella Vista College Prep, who trails them by a game in the standings going into the season’s final week. The teams have split their previous two meetings, with GCU beating Bella Vista in Week 7, 63-57; and BVCP coming back to beat the Lopes in Week 8, 69-59.
“We know that Bella Vista is a good team,” noted Speed. “We beat them once. They beat us once. We just have to go in, play hard and execute.”
Tipoff for the Lopes and Bears Thursday is scheduled for 6 pm, and admission is FREE!
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