Week news
CBU guard Ane Olaeta and the Lancers are a perfect 10-0 after sweeping Utah Valley in the WAC opening series for both teams. Courtesy CBU Athletics.

WAC Hoops Digest News and Notes: Week ending 1/9/21

I was reminded of something CBU women’s basketball coach Jarrod Olson said in a postgame interview Friday afternoon regarding back to backs. He said that game two’s would likely be tougher to win in his opinion, just because of the very short turnaround and quality of play in the Western Athletic Conference. After a week the statistics with only three series played (two men’s & one women’s) seem to bear that out as noted below.

Statistical Analysis of Week One

Game 1 Average Margin of Victory: 29 + 27 + 03=59÷3=19.7 PPG

Game 2 Average Margin of Victory: 09 + 04 + 11=24÷3=8.0 PPG

As you can see, games were much closer on the second night of play. Adjustments were made and game plans were executed at a higher level.

Game 1 Winning Team PPG: 83.3             Losing Team PPG: 63.7

Game 2 Winning Team PPG: 67.3             Losing Team PPG: 59.3 

On the second day of WAC play, winning teams scored 16 points less while losing teams scored four less than the night before.

Game 1 Winning Teams FG %: 50.0% (88-176) 3-Pt %: 35.1% (20-57)

Game 1 Losing Teams FG %:  37.5%  (68-181)  3-Pt %: 25.4% (17-67)

FG Change from Game 1 to Game 2

Game 2 Winning Teams FG %: 47.2% (68-144)  3-Pt %: 39.6% (21-53)

Game 2 Losing Teams FG %:   35.2% (62-176)   3-Pt %: 29.6% (16-54)

The total number of field goals made fell by sixteen from game one to game two with both winning & losing teams seeing a little more than two percent drop in makes. It’ll be interesting to see how these numbers pan out across the year. 3-point percentages went up from game one to game two. 

Croy misses trip to Utah Valley while recovering from COVID-19

California Baptist University men’s basketball coach Rick Croy missed last weekend’s series against Utah Valley University after testing positive for COVID-19. The Lancers were guided in two losses by Associate Head Coach Hardy Asprilla. 

Player & Newcomer of the Week (Women’s): 

With only one series last weekend between Utah Valley & California Baptist in Riverside and it being a sweep, award winners were fairly easy to pick in week one. 

CBU’s Britney Thomas wins our WAC Hoops Digest Player of the Week award for week one. In a sweep of Utah Valley she averaged 17.5 PPG & 7.0 RPG including eight of the first eleven points on Friday as CBU jumped out to an 11-0 lead and was never seriously threatened in game one. 

It’s a clean sweep of my weekly awards for CBU Women’s basketball as Freshman Nicole Avila-Ambrosi is Newcomer of the Week for opening week. The Freshman from Omaha, NE averaged 11.5 PPG (including a career-high 18 points on 5-8 FG’s/2-3 3 pt FG’s, in Friday’s 98-69 blowout win over Utah Valley), 3.5 RPG, and 2.0 APG a week ago. 

The week ahead: Women’s 

Week two has the following matchups>>

  • *Grand Canyon University @ New Mexico State (Played @ GCU Arena with NMSU the designated home team)
  • *California Baptist University @ Tarleton State University
  • *Seattle University @ Utah Valley University

Idle: Chicago State & UTRGV

Done for the Year: Dixie State 

Grand Canyon at New Mexico State at GCU Arena

New Mexico State won five straight conference regular season titles under the guidance of Mark Trakh & Brooke Atkinson until UMKC snapped it by winning last year’s title in their WAC swan song. They’ll open up the 2021 conference slate against Grand Canyon University, playing at GCU Arena as the home team looking to reestablish themselves at the top of the WAC. GCU is off to an incredible start at 8-1 behind the pressure defense employed by rookie head coach Molly Miller and freshman phenom Katie Scott (20.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.1 AST, 1.9 SPG in 19.6 mins) who has already garnered three WAC Ticketstarter Player of the Week awards. The Lopes force nearly 27 turnovers per game so key to any conference opponent’s success will be handling their press. 

California Baptist at Tarleton State

For the first time this season California Baptist University (10-0, 2-0 & No. 16 in this week’s collegeinsider.com mid-major top 25) leaves home and visits Tarleton State. Don’t let the Texans 3-9 overall record fool you, they’ve been competitive in their games against D1 opponents only getting blown out by Florida in what had to have been a buy game. Ane Olaeta of CBU continues to lead the nation in assists and their defense has won them games when the offense hasn’t been clicking. Friday afternoon we saw what the Lancers can do when it’s all flowing correctly. 

Seattle at Utah Valley

If there was ever a must win series in the second weekend of conference Utah Valley, picked first by the coaches poll, hosts one this weekend against Seattle. The Redhawks feature a quartet of ladies at eleven points per game or more in McKenzi Williams, Bree Calhoun, Georgia Kehoe and Courtney Murphy. They’ve already put up 106 in a non-conference non D1 game and 75 against Utah State. Josie Williams, Maria Carvalho, and Nehaa Sohail will have to have big weekends to keep UVU in the running. 

Player and Newcomer of the Week (Men’s):

Asbjørn Midtgaard of GCU is our WAC Hoops Digest men’s Player of the Week. Midtgaard took advantage of his size, averaging 18.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in two wins at Tarleton State. 

Fardaws Aimaq is our WAC Hoops Digest Newcomer of the Week. Aimaq was impressive averaging 17.5 points, 15 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in two wins at home over CBU. 

Fardaws Aimaq is averaging a nation-best 15.2 rebounds per game as Utah Valley is 2-0 in WAC play. (Jay Drowns / UVU Marketing)

The Week Ahead: Men’s 

  • Tarleton State @ California Baptist (WAC Digital Network, 6pm Pacific both days)
  • Utah Valley @ Seattle University (ESPN+, 6pm Pacific both days)
  • Dixie State @ UTRGV (WAC Digital Network, 7pm Pacific both days)

Non-Conference>> Bethesda University @ Grand Canyon University 

Idle>> New Mexico State 

Done for the Year>> Chicago State 

Tarleton State at California Baptist

Someone will get their first WAC win of 2021 on Friday night in Riverside. Both the Lancers and Texans were swept in their opening week series against Utah Valley and Grand Canyon,  respectively. Just a few years ago, the Lancers were in Tarleton State’s shoes, embarking on this journey to full NCAA Division I status. Time will tell if the Texans can have success. as well as CBU. The Lancers have nearly forty wins in their first two years and a postseason home game.

Montre Gipson leads Tarleton State at 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.0 steals in 34 minutes per game. Tahj Small & Jonathan Jackson also are averaging at least 10 points and 1.5 assists per contest for the Texans. Reed Nottage leads a quartet of Lancers in double figure scoring at 14.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while averaging 30 minutes per game. Ty Rowell, Tre Armstrong, Gorjok Gak, and Elijah Thomas are all also in the 10-point & 2-assist club for CBU. 

Utah Valley at Seattle

Seattle is the only WAC team to have not had a game postponed or cancelled thus far. And the Redhawks host Utah Valley in their opening WAC series. The Wolverines are coming off a home sweep of CBU while last time out the Redhawks defeated Saint Martin’s 98-63 on January 9th. Expect Riley Grigsby and Darrion Trammell to get plenty of defensive attention from Utah Valley. The dynamic duo averages nearly 36 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 47% from the field.

Fardaws Aimaq averages a double-double of 16 points & a nation-leading 15 rebounds per game to lead the Wolverines. Jamison Overton, Trey Woodbury, and Evan Cole all average at least 11 points & 4 rebounds per game for Utah Valley. 

Dixie State at UTRGV

Dixie State makes its much anticipated debut in the WAC this weekend with a trip to Edinburg. The Trailblazers are 2-2 against NCAA D1 competition with wins over Denver and North Dakota. They’re led by Cameron Gooden who averages 13.5 points per game. Jacob Nichols, Frank Staine, and Isaiah Pope also are in double figure scoring for Dixie State.

The Vaqueros were idle last weekend as a result of Chicago State’s decision to cancel the rest of their season. Sean Rhea & Quinton Johnson II are their primary scorers combining to put up 30 points a game while shooting 44.6% from the field & 36.7% beyond the arc. Keep an eye on former America East Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Otchere. At 6’11, Otchere is a rim protector for UTRGV. And the Vaqueros will possibly have Javon Levi back who has been dealing with a foot injury. 


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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