Lopes
GCU freshman guard Laila McLeod hit a 3-pointer later in the fourth quarter to help the Lopes get a big win on Saturday. Courtesy David Kadlubowski/GCU Athletics.

WBB: Lopes Hit Shots at Key Moments to Knock Off the Defending Champs

For the GCU women’s basketball team it’s not about if your number gets called. It’s about what you do when your number gets called. And on Saturday at GCU Arena against the defending champs, the Lopes

Saturday afternoon in the fourth quarter that opportunity came for freshman Laila McLeod and veteran Tiarra Brown.

Brown had a game-high 20 points and McLeod finished with 20 points including the dagger in a 74-70 win over defending WAC champion SFA on Saturday afternoon at GCU Arena.

In a rematch of the 2022 WAC Tournament title game, the Lopes exacted some revenge.

An Emma Krueger 3-pointer off Dominique Phillips assist put the Lopes up by four at 17-13 with 3:32 left in the first quarter. Jordan Harrison’s 3-pointer then tied the game at 19 with 1:36 left before an Olivia Lane basket at the 1:06 mark put GCU up 21-19 after 10 minutes of play.

“We played hard tonight for 40 minutes and that’s all I ask,” GCU head coach Molly Miller said. “If we make a mistake let’s make it going hard. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. We definitely took lessons learned from a couple of games that got away from us and applied them to tonight. With as much parody as there is in the conference, every win is important. And this is big. But, it’s still very early in the conference season. That’s a quality team over there and we had to earn this one.”

Kurstyn Harden had back-to-back baskets which put SFA up 29-23 midway thru the third quarter. Laila McLeod’s 3-pointer made it a 1-point Ladyjacks lead (34-33) with 1:42 left until half.

However, the Ladyjacks went on a 7-0 run, culminated by Destini Lombard’s layup at the buzzer to go up 40-33 at half.

GCU came out of the break and went on a 7-0 run covering two minutes and change to grab a 42-40 lead on a Tiarra Brown 3-pointer. McLeod added another 3-pointer which pushed the Lopes lead to 47-40 with 5:02 left.

Stephen F. Austin then countered with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the game at 47 on an Avery Brittingham layup. Dominique Phillips hit a mid-range jumper with 36 seconds left to keep GCU in front after three quarters.

McLeod hit another 3-pointer with 2:09 left to put the Lopes up 69-65 off a pass from Krueger. And GCU never trailed from that point on.

Aiyana Johnson’s layup with 31 seconds cut the deficit to one. But McLeod and Lane combined to make three of the game’s final four free throws to preserve the win.

“I thought the story was effort, energy, and offensive rebounding (GCU +13) but they definitely hit their share of timely shots,” Ladyjacks coach Mark Kellogg said. “It was good for our young group to get tested like this playing on the road in a tough environment and something that will definitely make us better going forward.”

Tiarra Brown also had five rebounds and a pair of steals.

Naudia Evans added another 12 points and four assists for the Lopes while Olivia Lane added 10 points and six rebounds for GCU.

Jordan Harrison had 18 points and five steals while Avery Brittingham had 17 points. Aiyana Johnson added 13 more in defeat for the Ladyjacks.

Lopes Leading Scorers:

Tiarra Brown – 20 points

Laila McLeod – 12 points

Naudia Evans – 12,

Olivia Lane – 10

3-pointers: McLeod – 3, Evan Zars –  1, Brown – 1, Evans – 1, Emma Krueger – 1

Ladyjacks Leading Scorers:

Jordan Harrison – 18 points

Avery Brittingham – 17 points

Aiyana Johnson – 13 points

3-pointers: Tyler McCliment-Call – 2, Harrison – 1, Kayla Deck – 1

Notable:

Evan Zars recorded her 1,000th career rebound in the win

GCU was +13 on the offensive glass (15-2) and shot 75 percent or higher from the free throw line for a second time in three games.

Lopes score 70 or more points in three straight games for the first time in a month.

 

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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