According to head coach Tracy Sanders, Southern Utah forward Megan Jensen does not have an angry bone in her body.
Well, she may not have an angry bone in her body, but Jensen can sure play basketball.
Jensen tied her career-high of 22 points to help lead Southern Utah to the WAC Tournament title game with a 64-51 win over GCU on Friday afternoon at Orleans Arena.
The win comes two nights after Cherita Daugherty threw up a prayer to send the T-Birds to the semifinals.
Except for just two minutes in the first quarter, 2-seed Southern Utah led for the entirety of the game. The T-Birds entered halftime up by 11 points and built up a lead as large as 20 points in the third quarter. The No. 3 seed GCU brought their deficit back into single digits in the fourth quarter but could not gather enough momentum for a comeback.
Southern Utah’s Megan Jensen dominated the game, outscoring every player on the court. Jensen matched her career high of 22 points, 16 of them coming in the first half alone. Jensen also chased down eight rebounds, falling just short of a double-double. Cherita Daugherty came close as well, scoring 16 points with eight rebounds after being the hero in the Thunderbirds’ previous win. Nine of Daugherty’s points came from the free throw line. As a team, SUU shot 45.1% from the field and 31.3% from 3-point range.
Guided by Lizzy Williamson, SUU played clean defense against GCU. The T-Birds only committed three fouls in the first and second quarters and allowed the Lopes just six free throw attempts in the game. Williamson contributed three blocks and two steals for the Thunderbirds along with seven defensive rebounds. Southern Utah out-rebounded GCU 39-27 with 11 offensive boards. However, SUU only managed to score four second-chance points off of the offensive boards.
Grand Canyon struggled significantly on the offensive side. The Lopes had just two players reach double figures. Naudia Evans and Alaina Harper scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. Evans made the only three successful 3-point shots for GCU. Tiarra Brown was also an impact player for the team, with eight points and collecting nine rebounds, four of them coming on the offensive side.
Collectively, the Lopes shot 37.3% from the field and 18.8% from beyond the arc.
Defense was GCU’s main strength in the game as they had 10 steals and forced the Thunderbirds into 20 total turnovers, scoring 20 points off of them. They forced 13 turnovers in the first half alone. However, SUU Head Coach Tracy Sanders made the adjustments as the T-Birds committed just seven turnovers after the break.
Southern Utah will face California Baptist in the final round of the WAC tournament. The No. 4 Lancers upset 1-seed Stephen F. Austin on Friday afternoon, 69-64.
CBU’s top player was Chloe Webb, who scored 17 points. Filipa Barros followed with 13 points and four rebounds. The Lancers struggled with ball handling and gave up 22 turnovers while allowing SFA to score 15 points off of them. Shot accuracy was their saving grace, though, as shown by their 49% field goal percentage and 39.1% three-point percentage.
Southern Utah and California Baptist met just once in the regular season and SUU won, 83-75.
The WAC championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 11, at 3:30 p.m. PST. It will take place in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and can be streamed on ESPN+.