Madi Miller is one of the Players of the Week in the Feast Week takeaways. Courtesy ACU Athletics.

WBB: 5 Takeaways from Feast Week 2022

With Thanksgiving leftovers there were plenty of games involving WAC teams over the holiday weekend to watch. Here are our takeaways from the weekend that was and a look ahead to a busy week including the battle for State Forty Eight. 

If you missed out takeaways from week two, you can view them here.

Player of the Week

For this week’s takeaways, the fans voted GCU’s Evan Zars as Player of the Week earning 67 of the 119 votes cast in our Twitter poll. Zars, a grad transfer from Western Illinois, averaged 18.5 PPG with 9 RPG and 2 SPG as the Lopes won their holiday tournament and moved to 5-0 with Arizona State coming to town on Wednesday. On Monday it was also announced that Zars earned the Conference Player of the Week award. However, we both went in different directions with our picks.

Derryl: Madi Miller, Abilene Christian

Averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2 assists as the Wildcats split the week with a win against Montana State (Big Sky Tournament Champion and NCAA Tourney representative) and loss to UT San Antonio. In Saturday’s win against the Bobcats, Miller, a graduate student, went off for 20 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists in 36 minutes. She went 4-12 from 3-point range and is currently shooting 32 percent from outside the arc in her last four games. 

Chelsea: Aiyanna Johnson, Stephen F. Austin

The grad student from Lee’s Summit, Missouri helped lead the Ladyjacks to wins in both of their games in Puerto Rico. This includes a Power 5 win over Boston College. In her two appearances in the Clasíco Thanksgiving Tournament, Johnson averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.0 blocks. She also shot 66 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free throw line. 

Best win of the Week

For this week’s takeaways, the fans voted Sam Houston’s road win in Dallas over TCU as the WAC’s best win with 46 of the 83 votes cast. Unfortunately, the Bearkats followed up that win with a loss in a non-Division I exhibition game against St. Mary’s.  However we had different takes.

Derryl: ACU Over Montana State

For me, this is a tough one but I’m going with Abilene Christian’s 66-61 win over Montana State at the North Texas tournament. Both BC and TCU are on long NCAA tournament droughts but have made the WNIT recently. Meanwhile, the Bobcats were an NCAA tourney team last year. It’s definitely a win which can set the tone for Julie Goodenough’s team as they look to improve upon a mid-pack regular season finish from last year.

Chelsea: GCU Over North Dakota

GCU’s win over North Dakota was extremely impressive. The Fighting Hawks may be one of the strongest opponents the Lopes face, especially in non-conference play. Yet, GCU won by a large margin with a final score of 73-60. All but 1 of the 12 active Lopes scored at least once, yet again showing the depth of this very talented roster. Specifically, Evan Zars had a standout performance. She ended up with a double-double by scoring 22 points and 12 rebounds and had an assist and a steal to go along with it. The Lopes followed up this performance with a win over Lindenwood in the final game of the GCU Thanksgiving Classic, moving to a 5-0 start to the season for the first time in program history. 

Surprise Performer of the Week

Derryl: Sam Johnston, Southern Utah

I’m going with Sam Johnston of Southern Utah for this award. Johnston, a junior guard, was 4-6 from beyond the arc and had 15 points in a triple OT loss to UCSB on Saturday. She hit a corner 3-pointer with nine seconds left to force triple overtime. Johnston also had a 3-pointer to cut UCSB’s lead to two points with 30 seconds left in triple OT. She’s a career 34 percent 3-point shooter and should hit the 100 made three’s in a career plateau before the start of conference play. 

Chelsea: Alaina Harper, GCU

I have to go with the Freshman of the Week Alaina Harper. She has been super impressive early on in her collegiate career for the Lopes. The tallest player on the roster, she’s been playing solid backup minutes behind WAC Player of the Week Evan Zars. Harper is currently averaging 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 13.6 minutes per game. In GCU’s last game against Lindenwood, Harper was named Player of the Game. She led all scorers with 18 points and grabbed four boards in just 17 minutes. She certainly doesn’t look shy under the bright lights of Division I Basketball. 

Lopes & Ladyjacks Perfect in Holiday Tournaments 

With a month to go until WAC play begins just after Christmas, the Thanksgiving break is a perfect time to begin rounding into form. Both Stephen F. Austin and Grand Canyon won tournament titles over the break and go into big tests this week on a high note. The Lopes recorded wins over North Dakota (4th Preseason Summit League Coaches voting) and Lindenwood (9th Preseason Ohio Valley Coaches’ voting) in Phoenix to win their holiday tournament. Meanwhile, the Ladyjacks got to put on the frequent flier miles and logged about 2,000 miles for two wins at the Clasíco Thanksgiving tournament in Puerto Rico over Morgan State (4th MEAC Coaches’ Poll) and Boston College (13th ACC Preseason Poll). 

The Week Ahead

Coming back from the holiday break there are some nice opportunities for WAC teams to pick up quality wins. Leading the slate are Wednesday night’s Arizona State at GCU game and Thursday night’s Houston at UTA game. Also on Wednesday night, CBU visits USC and Gonzaga is scheduled to make a trip to Texas for a Thursday night game at Stephen F. Austin. The Zags had to miss a scheduled contest against Eastern Washington but defeated Maine on Monday, 62-43. There will be another takeaways article following a big week around the WAC.


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.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to WAC Hoops Digest

Enter your email address to subscribe to WAC Hoops Digest so you never miss a beat.

Click Here to Get Your NBA Gear

Enjoy Las Vegas

Buy and Sell Your Tickets with StubHub

Get Your MLB Gear at the MLB Shop

Book with Expedia.com

Book a Stay with Hotels.com

%d bloggers like this: