Ane Olaeta and the California Baptist Lancers were two wins away from a regular season championship. Sitting on a perfect 18-0 record overall and 10-0 in WAC play, the Lancers’ end goal was in site.
And despite falling behind in both games, CBU accomplished its season goal. Olaeta and Company won in dramatic fashion on Friday. The Lancers then used a big second half on Saturday to earn their first outright WAC regular season crown since joining the conference in 2018-19.
We’ve got some awards to hand out along with a look ahead as there are only two more weekends of regular season play before the WAC tournament.
Players of the Week
Ane Olaeta & Britney Thomas (CBU)
With a regular season title at stake in Riverside against Grand Canyon last weekend this duo came through in a big way as California Baptist University clinched that title & tournament #1 seed by sweeping the Lopes.
Olaeta, this year’s Preseason Player of the Year as voted on by coaches & media, averaged 19 points on 16-31 FG’s (3-6 3’s), 10 assists, and 3 steals in the two contests. More importantly, against GCU’s nationally leading defense in turnovers forced, Olaeta averaged 4.5 turnovers in 35 minutes played. In Saturday’s win against GCU, which secured the outright regular season crown, Olaeta took over and posted a season high 26 points on 11-18 FG’s (3-3 3’s), 9 assists and 3 steals with 35 minutes played.
“I came into the conference not knowing these players but knew she was named Preseason Player of the Year,” GCU head coach Molly Miller said. “Now I know why. She’s a very good basketball player who makes the right play, the right pass and makes them go.”
Thomas, who missed last year’s campaign and some of this year with injuries, averaged 20.5 PPG on 17-23 FG’s, 8.5 RPG and 2.5 BPG in 27.5 minutes of work. On Friday, with their winning streak and the undefeated Western Athletic Conference season pushed to overtime, she came through with 24 points on 10-13 FG’s, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 24 minutes played.
“Britney was huge for us in establishing a post presence against them and performed as a redshirt senior should with the stakes that high,” CBU head coach Jarod Olson said.
Newcomers of the Week
A trio of newcomers earned this next award for performances over the weekend by either Freshman or rookies to the conference…
Bree Calhoun (Seattle University)
A junior college transfer from Moorpark College in Southern California, Calhoun distinguished herself as the Redhawks earned a split with UTRGV at home by averaging 21.5 ppg on 17-32 FG’s (5-14 3’s), 8 Ast, 8 Rbs, 4 Stls in 38.5 mins. Seattle is currently in a three way tie for second.
Shay Fano (Utah Valley)
A transfer from Southern Utah (Big Sky), Fano made her mark in the Wolverines series with New Mexico State (split) by averaging 14p on 12-27 FG’s (3-10 3’s), 6.5 Rbs, 7 Ast in 37.5 minutes. The Wolverines are in a three way tie for second.
Katie Scott (Grand Canyon)
Although the Lopes were swept in Riverside, Scott’s Friday afternoon heroics earned her a spot on this list. In that series opener she posted 26 points on 9-16 FG’s (3-7 3’s), 8 Rebounds & 3 Assists in 29 minutes. On the weekend Scott averaged 14p on 12-27 FG’s (3-10 3’s), 6.5 Rbs and 7 Ast in 37.5 minutes. GCU is also in that three way tie for second.
WAC Standings as of Feb. 22, 2021
California Baptist: 20-0 O, 12-0 WAC
Grand Canyon: 14-6 O, 6-4 WAC
Utah Valley: 8-5 O, 6-4 WAC
Seattle: 7-3 O, 6-4 WAC
NM State: 4-6 O, 3-5 WAC
Tarleton State: 3-7 O, 2-6 WAC
UTRGV: 2-8 O, 1-5 WAC
Chicago State: 0-10 O, 0-8 WAC
Dixie State: 1-2 O, 0-0 WAC
- As a result of prior Board action CBU is WAC tournament eligible this year. They are the Regular Season champions & tournament number #1 seed.
- Dixie State & Tarleton State are not tournament eligible until 2022-23
- Dixie State did not complete the campaign due to COVID-19 concerns
A Look Ahead
All games are Friday & Saturday with coverage on the WAC Digital Network unless otherwise noted.
Idle- California Baptist University
Seattle University @ Grand Canyon University:
6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific (Also available on gcu.tv YouTube) both nights.
All eyes in the WAC women’s basketball world now move from Riverside to Phoenix as GCU (coming off being swept by California Baptist University) welcomes Seattle. The Redhawks are coming off a split with UTRGV at home in their previous series. This series matches two of three teams fighting for second place and an accompanying potential NCAA tournament bid. We’ll go in depth on this series later in the week.
Utah Valley @ UTRGV
6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain both nights.
With two series left, there is still plenty at stake for Dan Nielson and company in that race for 2nd place and potential NCAA Tournament bid. The Wolverines have two road trips to Texas remaining, starting with a Vaqueros squad coming off their first conference win of 2021 at Seattle. Lane Lord’s team has played pretty well at home in WAC play pushing CBU in the 2nd of their two matchups before falling.
Tarleton State @ New Mexico State in El Paso
6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain both nights.
Sitting just a game back in the loss column from that three way tie for second is New Mexico State and the Aggies do not play any of the top four teams in their final two series. They start that stretch run by hosting Tarleton State, who is coming off of a sweep in the Windy City their last time out. Realistically, all the Aggies can do is win and keep their eyes on the action in Phoenix and Edinburg.