By: Ruby Arani/ GCU Staff
There was plenty of purple to go around this past weekend as the Grand Canyon University Women’s Basketball teams opened the inaugural season of the Arizona Women’s Basketball League (AWBL). Both of AWBL’s Week 1 games featured a GCU squad, with GCU Purple beating Benedictine University Junior Varsity, 73-43, and GCU White falling to Arizona Christian University, 78-30.
The AWBL-the new league that features the two GCU teams along with Arizona Christian University, Bella Vista College Prep and Benedictine University-saw four of those teams open their 12-game schedules at the Lopes’ Performance Center on the GCU campus Saturday night.
GCU Purple dominated the Redhawks of Benedictine Junior Varsity and despite it being their first league game, put the game away by a 30-point margin.
“GCU Purple is battle tested,” said Lopes Head Coach Kyle Speed. “This is the same group that won regionals last year, so they have chemistry as a group. They really played well on the defensive end which helped us create offense. It’s only one game but a great start to league play.”
Of the strong team chemistry the returners showed, one particular Lope shined.
“We all played well, but if I had to choose one girl who really got it going, it would be Cassandra Ibarra,” said Speed. “Ibarra made several great plays on the defensive end as well and finished the game with 16 points. The thing that makes our team unique is that on Saturday, it was Ibarra, but on any given night, we have 5 or 6 girls who can really get it going.”
Meanwhile, GCU White struggled with being both a young side and with the press defense of the Firebirds of ACU, who handled the Lopes, 78-30.
“GCU White needs to work on being more comfortable running our plays and being more assertive offensively,” said Lopes Assistant Coach Hannah Bolton. “Defensively, we need to work on changing our effort, and making that side of the court more of a priority.”
Despite the drastic difference of outcome for his two teams, Speed saw something they both can work on going forward.
“Now that the AWBL has started, I am really looking for our girls to compete night in and night out,” said Speed. “There are no nights off in this league, and one game does not determine future success, so we have to be locked in each time we take the floor.”
GCU White will take the court again this Saturday December 8 against the last AWBL team to make their league debut, Bella Vista College Prep, at GCU Lopes Performance Center. Tipoff is at 10 am and admission is FREE.