The 2022-23 season opener is finally here.
For the Grand Canyon women’s basketball team, the wait has been worth the squeeze.
On Tuesday, GCU Women’s Basketball won in convincing fashion against the Mustangs of WNMU. The final score was 96-51 in a game that saw all 13 active Lopes score at least once. It was also a stellar defensive effort. GCU held the Mustangs to less than 20 percent shooting from the field in the first half of play.
After a successful premiere of the new squad, the Lopes are more than ready to officially start the season Monday afternoon against the crosstown foe of Arizona Christian University.
GCU was voted 3rd in the conference in the preseason coaches’ and media polls. So, the Lopes feel like they have something to prove. Starting 1-0 on the season is the best way to work that chip off their shoulder.
Sure, opening against a non-Division I opponent isn’t ideal. But, that doesn’t matter. The 2022-23 season opener is here and that is all that matters at the moment for the GCU women’s basketball team.
Who is Arizona Christian?
Our regular WAC readers are most likely used to seeing ‘ACU’ and thinking of Abilene Christian. But the Arizona version of ‘ACU’ is a small private Christian university in Glendale, about 30 minutes northwest of GCU. The school was founded in 1960 and was originally named Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College until 2011. ACU has been steadily growing for over a decade and had record enrollment numbers for several years.
The Firestorm are an NAIA team that went 21-10 last year. They played the University of Arizona and GCU in back-to-back games. While ACU counted these as exhibition games, GCU counted their win against ACU as their first game of the season. GCU beat ACU, 95-48, in 2021-22.
New Look Lopes
Only five of the 15 players on GCU’s roster this season were wearing the purple and white in 2021-22. This is a big reason why many coaches and media members aren’t too sure about this team.
But with transfers Aaliyah Collins and Sydney Palma and returners Tiarra Brown and Dom Phillips, GCU has the ability to beat anyone. Brown returns after averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 2021-22. In her lone season at Chicago State, Collins was a Second Team All-WAC selection as well as a member of the All-Newcomer Team. Palma was part of a CBU squad that beat the Lopes in the 2021 WAC Tournament title game.
In their exhibition win against WNMU, GCU looked pretty good all around. Bu, there were certainly some early-season jitters to work out. GCU’s defense was stellar. Not only did they prevent the Mustangs from scoring, but they also forced 33 turnovers, 21 of which were from the WNMU starting five.
However, GCU had some problems with turnovers of their own. Several passes in the first few minutes completely missed the mark. They were also consistently out-rebounded by the Mustangs. Head coach Molly Miller said post-game that boxing out was something that was going to be a huge focus in practice leading up to the Monday’s season opener.
There shouldn’t be any problem in the season opener. So cleaning up the rebounding issue as well as the turnover issue will be a point of emphasis on Monday night.
Tip off is set for 4 p.m. MT on ESPN+.