Utah Valley and GCU win
Utah Valley and guard Maria Carvalho kept pace for second place with a road win at UTRGV on Friday. Courtesy UVU Athletics.

Utah Valley, GCU Keep Pace for Second Place in WAC Standings on Friday

In the race for second place in the standings, Utah Valley and GCU kept pace while Seattle and New Mexico State took a tumble.

Here is a breakdown of Friday’s women’s WAC hoops action.

Grand Canyon 90, Seattle U 43

If you were late for tip-off of the GCU and Seattle U women’s game on the WAC Digital Network on Friday, then you missed out.  The Lopes got off to a hot start in their penultimate home game and cruised to the dominating victory. Seattle (6-5) had struggles all night against the Lopes nationally regarded defense. The Redhawks shot just 30 percent in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Grand Canyon (7-4) began Friday’s game on a 14-0 run and led 21-7 after ten minutes (shooting 64.3% from the field including 2 for 3 on 3s). And things simply got worse for Seattle from there. 

In my preview of this series I talked about balance offenses. And Grand Canyon’s was on full display with five Lopes in double figures.

*Tiarra Brown 14 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes

*Katie Scott    12 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 16 minutes

*Laura Piera   11 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists in 20 minutes

*Taylor Caldwell 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals in 20 minutes

*Venla Varis        11 points in 15 minutes

Meanwhile, the GCU defense added another 20 forced turnovers. The Lopes are seeking the national lead in that column once again. GCU currently trails future WAC member Stephen F. Austin by a small margin. Overall, the Lopes shot 51.4 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range. 

“We talk about every game being the most important one of the season,” GCU head coach Molly Miller said. “Tonight it was this one. Tomorrow, that’s the most important game of the season now. We were ready to play at home, in front of our home crowd, on our home court, and hit some shots. I think that perfect passing and in-rhythm shots helped our percentage today.”

This series concludes tomorrow at 6 p.m. MT (5 p.m. PST) on the WAC Digital Network. 

Utah Valley 62, UTRGV 54

This series was expected to be a close pair of games in Edinburg and Friday night’s opener didn’t disappoint. But, someone had to win and Utah Valley did just that. 

Both teams struggled to score in the opening quarter and actually ended ten minutes tied at nine. They combined to shoot 7-33 from the field (21.2%) and 1-11 (9.1%) from three. 

Josie Williams’ layup with 1:44 to half gave the Wolverines a 20-19 lead. Then UTRGV’s Amara Graham & Jena’ Williams hit consecutive three pointers to give the Vaqueros a six point lead at 25-19 with 1:02 till the break. A Nehaa Sohail three pointer with forty one seconds left made the Vaqueros lead three points (25-22) at half. 

Utah Valley (7-4) stormed out of the break and went on a 13-5 run over 4:29 to take a lead at 35-30 and force a UTRGV (1-6) timeout. Williams had five points (two layups and a FT), Shay Fano added four more (two layups), with Kayla Anderson (jumper in transition to start it) and Maria Carvalho each adding made shots in that stretch. They’d outscore UTRGV 28-15 and take a 50-40 lead after three quarters. 

The Vaqueros got no closer than seven points on a couple of occasions, and their last was with 4:09 left on an Iva Belosevic layup to make it a 57-50 score. 

“We challenged the team at halftime to come out and just do what they’re good at,” Utah Valley head coach Dan Nielson said. “And I was really pleased with how we responded in that third quarter. This is a big win that gets a tough road trip started off on the right foot.”

Josie Williams led Utah Valley with 15 points and five rebounds. Shay Fano had 14 points and three Steals while Maria Carvalho added 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals for the Wolverines. 

UTRGV got 24 points in defeat from Amara Graham on who was 8-11 from the field and hit four 3-pointers. 

This series finishes Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Mountain (3 p.m. CT) on the WAC Digital Network. 

Tarleton State 62, New Mexico State 53

In a game slowed by 57 total fouls (38 on New Mexico State) and 48 combined turnovers (30 by the Texans & 18 for NMSU), Tarleton State recorded its third straight win against WAC competition at Eastwood High School in El Paso. 

There were 11 ties in the first half. However, the Texans (3-6) took a 30-23 lead into half. Tarleton State began the 2nd quarter on an 8-0 run covering 4:04. Marissa Escamilla and Emily Cunningham hit layups while Iyana Dorsey hit a 3-pointer during the spurt. 

Molly Kaiser’s layup with 4:47 left to play cut the New Mexico State deficit to three.  But 48-45 was as close as the Aggies got on Friday. 

Iyana Dorsey led the Texans with 12 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Emily Cunningham had 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Lucy Benson added 10 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks for Tarleton State.

Soufia Inoussa led the Aggies with 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals while Aaliyah Prince added 10 points and 4 rebounds in defeat. 

This series finishes at 2 p.m. CT on the WAC Digital Network


About the author

Derryl Trujillo

Derryl Trujillo is a Southern California based sportswriter who won the 2019 Inland Empire Baseball Coaches Association's Supporter of the Year award. He joined the WAC Hoops Digest staff in 2020 and also covers local sports for Inland Sports and the Valley News. Before transitioning to media Derryl was a high school, collegiate and club volleyball official along with serving as a high school basketball scorekeeper for ten years.

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