Photo Credit: David Kadlubowski/GCU Athletics
LAS VEGAS – Lady luck finally ran out for the Grand Canyon women’s basketball team in Las Vegas in the form of the California Baptist Lancers who started fast and cruised to a 78-60 win to claim the Western Athletic Conference Championship.
CBU improved to an incredible 24-0 but cannot qualify for the NCAA tournament because they are in the third year of their four-year transition to Division I competition. Utah Valley, which finished second in the regular season, will receive the conference’s automatic bid.
“It’s hard walking into that locker room seeing the tears and long faces,” GCU head coach Molly Miller said after the loss. “That hurt a lot. I think we had a lot of shots within the game to stay in it and be competitive.”
What a run.
— GCU Women’s Basketball (@GCU_WBB) March 13, 2021
The top-seed set the tempo early jumping out to a 21-16 lead after one quarter. They also took care of business on the glass (13-5) and did relatively well handling the Lopes’ pressure defense.
Things started to get sideways for Miller’s squad in the second quarter as CBU stretched the lead to 27-16 with a quick 6-0 run in the opening two minutes to force a quick GCU timeout.
Every Lancer who played in the first half scored and the Lancers made 11-22 three-pointers and all four of their free throws to take a 43-32 halftime lead.
The long-range barrage continued in the third quarter as CBU pushed the margin to 52-34 behind Tiena Neale and Kaitlyn Harper who both hit double figures scoring. GCU’s cold-shooting remained an ugly trend and the Lancers never seemed to let Miller’s group get comfortable at either end of the floor.
“They didn’t miss much,” Miller said of the Cal Baptists’ long-range shooters. “You’re trying to pick your poison a little bit. We didn’t contest three’s and fly around enough.”
CBU would take a 55-41 lead into the final quarter as the Lopes’ offense would abandon them again, connecting on just 12-43 field goal attempts (28%) through the first 30 minutes of play. Entering the fourth, the third-seed still didn’t have a player in double figures and were being out rebounded 37-24.
Miller called timeout at the 6:18 mark with GCU down 62-44 and the Lancers in complete control, much like they’ve been in their current win streak. They are the nation’s only undefeated women’s basketball team.
— California Baptist WBB 1️⃣9️⃣✖️🔥➕✂️➕🔥🔥🔥✂️ (@CBUwbb) March 13, 2021
Freshman post Katie Scott was GCU’s only double-digit scorer, finishing with 21 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Lopes, who fell to 18-7, shot just 31% from the field and were dominated on the glass, 49-33.
“We’re going to take this and hopefully learn from this moment,” Miller said. “I hope they’re hungry to get back here next year…post-season is a different beast..we’re making strides I think of who we want to be and our identity.”