'Lopes off to best start in school history
GCU improved to 10-1, its best-ever record after 11 games, and won its ninth straight game at the CCAA/PacWest Challenge at San Francisco State University Saturday.
The 1993-94 Grand Canyon team went 9-1, but lost its next contest.
“It’s a product of success breeding success and we build on that,” said GCU coach Trent May. “We have the mindset to never give up.”
Grand Canyon led by eight, 13-5, in the first half, but fell victim to foul trouble, most notably the three personals to leading scorer Samantha Murphy (Phoenix, AZ, Xavier Prep), and poor shooting (35.5 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from the free-throw line) and trailed 31-29 at the break.
Two free throws from freshman Maylinn Smith (Gilbert, Ariz., Mesquite) gave Grand Canyon the lead for good, 39-37, with 11:45 left. The Antelopes took advantage of 20 second-half fouls called on the Warriors, scoring 19 of their 41 second-half points from the charity stripe.
“We were getting a little frustrated with each other (in the first half) and it took us out of our game,” said junior center Jallisa Butler (Las Vegas, Nev., Cimarron, Barstow CC), who had 20 points, 16 rebounds and was named the tournament MVP. “We thrive off each other’s energy and we pick each other up. We know what we have to do to win and that’s play with intensity and work hard and we got back to doing that (in the second half).”
Butler had achieved her double-double by halftime, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Murphy scored 16 points and joined Butler on the all-tournament team. Off the bench, Smith had 15, including 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Junior Stevie Kamp (Mesa, Ariz., Mountain View, Nova Southeastern) had eight rebounds and senior Katie Johnson (Phoenix, AZ, Deer Valley, South Mountain CC) grabbed seven. Senior guard Rosalyn Nelson (Phoenix, AZ, Deer Valley) had a game-high six assists.
“Sometimes we just have to settle down and breathe a little bit,” said May of his team overcoming a tough start for the second straight night. GCU trailed 17-8 midway through the first half against San Francisco State on Friday before outscoring the Gators 52-21 the rest of the way. “Overcoming those situations comes with confidence. They’ve done it before and they’ve done it on the road. I may have had teams in the past panic, but this team has handled the situation before and they did it again tonight.”
The win was GCU’s fifth straight against a West Region opponent.
Grand Canyon went 2-0 in the challenge and will play Fresno Pacific Dec. 18 at home beginning at 4 p.m.