Tiara Brown and GCU suffered their second straight non-conference defeat on Wednesday at UC Irvine. Courtesy Garrett Ohrenberg/GCU Athletics.

WBB: Second Half Woes Continue for GCU in Loss at UC Irvine

For much of the 2022-23 season, a retooled GCU women’s basketball roster has been producing solid offensive numbers after third year Lopes head coach Molly Miller and staff recruited with that end in mind in the offseason.

However, every team will have their struggles.

And GCU has hit a rough patch over the last week. There was the overtime loss at home to Idaho.

And on Wednesday, a 64-51 defeat in their non-conference finale Wednesday at UC Irvine. It might not be a bad loss as the Anteaters are receiving votes in this week’s collegeinsider.com mid-major poll. The Lopes started this week at No. 20 in that same poll.

Things started out well enough for the Lopes who took a 12-9 first quarter lead on Sydney Palma’s left wing 3-pointer. GCU stretched it to 16-9 as Naudia Evans had a steal and layup.

Naomi Hunt made three straight free throws to keep the Anteaters within contact despite early turnover issues.

A 3-pointer from Evans pushed the Lopes lead to double figures at 23-13 with 7:33 left until the half. It stabilized at nine points (35-26) after a late pair of free throws from Olivia Lane.

GCU was 13-29 from the field at intermission and had forced 16 UC Irvine turnovers while holding the Anteaters to 32 percent total shooting.

However, it was a tale of two halves as the Anteater offense found their footing after intermission.

Olivia Williams and Nikki Tom connected on back-to-back 3-pointers which sparked an 8-2 run that covered 4:58 and closed the Lopes lead to 37-34.

A late 8-0 run sparked by Diaba Konate’s jumper put the Anteaters up 48-40 after 30 minutes in their quest for coach Tamara Inoue’s 100th win.

In that third quarter, the UCI offense outscored GCU 22-5, shooting an impressive 46.5 percent from the field while holding the Lopes to 2-16 (12.5%).

“We didn’t do a great job in the first half of taking care of the ball,” Inoue said. “But once we did after halftime, we were able to do some really good things offensively. However, I’m really proud of the girls for that defensive effort after the break. Holding them to five points in the third quarter and just 16 for that half is no easy feat and something like that will get us ready for Big West play, which is ultimately what it’s about.”

Just twenty 23 into the fourth quarter another 3-pointer from Williams pushed the UCI lead to 51-40.

At the 6:32 mark, after consecutive baskets from Evan Zars and Olivia Lane, GCU trailed 53-47. But they’d get no closer and fall for a second straight year in a trip to Big West territory.

“I have a lot of confidence in the kids in that locker room that we’ll refocus over the break and get off to a good start next week in WAC play.” Miller remarked. “Foul trouble definitely hurt us. But you can’t score five points in a quarter and expect to have a good result. We believe this team has a really high ceiling and a game like this afternoon will help us find our shortcomings heading into a loaded conference.”

Lopes Behind The Numbers: 

51-A season low in point output by the Lopes offense.

0-Number of 3-pointers made by GCU on Wednesday night in the second half

26-Number of Anteater turnovers forced

2-Double figure scorers (Lane with 12 points and 6 rebounds and Tiarra Brown who had 10 points with 5 rebounds) and a season low in made 3-pointers

Anteaters Behind The Numbers:

100-Number of wins Inoue has recorded since taking over the UCI program seven years ago

3-Number of Anteaters in double figure scoring. Konate led all scorers with 15 points. Hunter Hernandez had 13 points. And Williams who was 3-4 from beyond the arc.

30-Number of free throws UCI made in Wednesday’s win

2-Number of 3-pointers the UCI defense allowed on 21 attempts





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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