Grand Canyon used a big fourth quarter to extend its winning streak to six games and along the way moved into first place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 62-56 win over Kansas City on Feb. 13.
The win improved the Lopes to 8-2 in conference play at the time and GCU increased its league mark to 9-2 by defeating Chicago State 68-57 two days later.
Kansas City, which defeated Bakersfield 58-43 following the loss to the Lopes, currently sits in second place in the league with an 8-3 record. Bakersfield, Seattle and Utah Valley are in a three-way tie for third place with all three teams sporting 6-5 conference records.
Bakersfield open play last week with a 58-51 win over Chicago State before playing Kansas City. Seattle joined GCU as the only other conference team to win a pair of games last week. The Redhawks defeated New Mexico State 67-57 before getting past UT Rio Grande Valley 78-70. Utah Valley split its two contests by knocking of UTRGV 61-54 and dropping a 65-58 decision to New Mexico State.
Jada Holland sparked GCU’s big fourth quarter against the Kangaroos by scoring 15 of her team-high 18 points in the period. The freshman, who was the lone Lope player to reach double figures, connected on four of five shots from behind the arc and scored 12 straight points at one time for the victors in the final quarter of play to help the Lopes overcome a 49-41 deficit at the start of the period.
Venla Varis connected on a 3-pointer of her own to draw the two teams into a 49-49 tie with 8:23 to play in the game. Kansas City managed to build a 56-51 lead with just under five minutes left in the game, but as blanked the rest of the way.
Ericka Mattingly and Cristina Soriano both reached double figures to lead the Kangaroos in scoring. Mattingly finished with a game-high 19 points, while Soriano chipped in with 15 points of her own.
WAC Marquee Games of the Week
Utah Valley at Bakersfield
When: Thursday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m.
Where: Icardo Center (3,497)
Once sitting atop the WAC standings after winning its first five conference contests, Utah Valley has faltered in recent weeks. The Wolverines have won just once in their last six outings to fall into a tie for third place in the race for the top spot in the upcoming conference tournament.
Bakersfield, meanwhile, once found themselves among the leaders in the WAC before experiencing a streak where the Roadrunners found themselves on the short end of the stick in four of six conference games. Wins over Utah Valley and Seattle this week would right the ship in a big way and provide Bakersfield with much-needed momentum heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
UTAH VALLEY WOLVERINES: Double-figuring scoring is often looked at as a sort of measuring stick for the success of any team. Sometimes that standard does not tell the whole story and Utah Valley is a testament to that.
UVU’s Jordan Holland (6-0, Sr., F/C), one of just three seniors on the Wolverine roster, is the only player scoring in double digits so far this season. She is averaging 12.3 points per game and leads the team with 6.1 rebounds per contest. She also ranks third on the team in assists (44) and steals (26).
Hovering just below that double-digit threshold are Eve Braslis (6-1, So. F) and Josie Williams (6-5, So. C), two players whose contributions are a big reason why the Wolverines are still alive in the conference race.
Braslis is averaging 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season. She ranks third on the team in rebounding and is tied for fourth with 33 assists on the year. Williams, meanwhile, is scoring at a 9.4 points per game clip and ranked second with a 5.8 rebounding average. She has also tallied 27 assists and 13 steals heading into this week’s against Bakersfield and league-leading Grand Canyon.
BAKERSFIELD ROADRUNNERS: Jayden Eggleston (6-1, RS, So., F) continues to pace the Roadrunners in scoring as she enters this week’s clash with Utah Valley with an 11.9 scoring average. The versatile Eggleston also ranks third on the team in rebounding (5.5 rpg), assists (35) and steals (34).
Teammate Ashley Austin (5-5, So., G) is also averaging in double figures with 10.6 points per game. The dynamic Austin ranks second on the team with 35 steals and is fifth with 33 assists and is chipping in with 2.6 rebounds per outing.
Seattle at Bakersfield
When: Saturday, Feb. 22, 1 p.m.
Where: Icardo Center (3.497)
Seattle, to use a popular term, is trending upward … and in a big way.
The Redhawks began that season with just one win in their first six games. But, with Suzy Barcomb at the helm of the Seattle program, it would not be wise to think the Redhawks would remain grounded too long.
Barcomb’s team has rebounded from that horrendous start to the conference season by winning five straight games to climb back into the hunt of the top spot in the Western Athletic Conference and a pair of wins this week would go a long way toward that goal.
SEATTLE REDHAWKS: Seattle has three players scoring in double figures heading into this week’s games against league-leading Grand Canyon and Bakersfield, a team the Redhawks defeated 63-57 to begin the current five-game winning streak.
Kamira Sanders (5-7, Sr., G) leads the way with 17.5 points per game and her 5.2 rebounds per contest ranks second on the team. Sanders also tops the team charts in assists (88) and steals (61).
Courtney Murphy (6-0, So., G) and Joana Alves (6-3, Sr., P) join Sanders in double figure scoring. Murphy is averaging 12.2 points and Alves is right behind with an average of 12.1 points per game. Murphy is grabbing 4.1 rebounds per game and has tallied 29 assists and 25 steals so far this season. Alves is leading the Redhawks by grabbing 6.6 rebounds per game and has 39 assists and 18 steals to her credit in 2019-20.
BAKERSFIELD ROADRUNNERS: See above
Western Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Standings
|New Mexico State||6-6||9-16||316|
|UT Rio Grande Valley||5-7||10-15||317|
Last Week’s Results
Bakersfield 58, Chicago State 51
California 108, Westcliff 43
Grand Canyon 62, Kansas City 56
Seattle 67, New Mexico State 57
Utah Valley 61, UT Rio Grande Valley 54
Grand Canyon 68, Chicago State 57
Kansas City 58, Bakersfield 43
New Mexico State 65, Utah Valley 58
Seattle 78, UT Rio Grande Valley 70
This Week’s Games
Kansas City at California Baptist, 7 p.m., WDN
Seattle at Grand Canyon, 6 p.m., WDN
Utah Valley at Bakersfield, 8 p.m.
New Mexico State at UT Rio Grande Valley, 11 a.m., WDN
Seattle at Bakersfield, 1 p.m., WDN
Chicago State at California Baptist, 2 p.m., WDN
Utah Valley at Grand Canyon, 2 p.m. WDN
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.