Happy Holidays, WAC Hoops Nation! Hopefully, you were able to spend some time with family and friends. Perhaps you ate some really good food. And maybe, just maybe you were good enough this year to have Santa stop by. Well, Santa is stopping by this week for sure with a New Year’s present. Conference play begins.
With all but one non conference game completed it’s time to focus our eyes towards Western Athletic Conference play.
As we reach the start of WAC play on Thursday only two teams are ranked in collegeinsider.com’s mid major top 25 poll…
After an overtime victory at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CBU reached number four in this week’s poll. Meanwhile, after a couple of tough losses against Gonzaga & Portland the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin fell to the ninth spot.
Lopes Get Back on Track Heading into WAC Opener
After losing against Liberty in game one on South Padre Island GCU bounced back with a 62-52 victory over UTSA. Tiarra Brown led the Lopes with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in victory as the Roadrunners were held to just under 35 percent shooting.
Then, just before Christmas, the Lopes secured their best win of the campaign, a 58-53 victory over UC Irvine at GCU Arena. GCU’s defense stepped forward in the win as they held UCI to 31.5 percent from the field. Amara Graham had 15 points on 3-4 from distance. Graham also had four rebounds and three assists. Taylor Caldwell chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
In a GCU press release, Lopes coach Molly Miller remarked, “This is a new group trying to play together and learn the strengths and weaknesses of one another. I think for us, moving into conference, we’re going to do a lot of digging in this break of what works and what doesn’t work. We need to scrap some things and emphasize some of our strengths so it’ll be fun to now go into conference play with two wins and hopefully we can use that momentum.”
Justice on Leave at Sam Houston State
On November 29, Sam Houston State coach Ravon Justice took an indefinite leave of absence. Brittany Mason will serve as interim head coach and is 3-3 (1-0 WAC) at press time. That lone conference win comes as a result of a Lamar forfeit due to the Cardinals entering COVID protocol this week.
Forfeit Rule Being Discussed
It was previously announced that any game cancelled as a result of a COVID-19 issue would be charged as a forfeit loss to the cancelling team. However, COVID issues are beginning to come up nationwide. Thus, discussions are ongoing regarding this policy during conference meetings next week.
WAC National Leaderboard Representation
As of the holiday break CBU’s Ane Olaeta is once again the national leader in assists at 7.9 per game.
WAC scoring leader Caitlyn Harper of CBU (18.5 ppg) is T40th nationally.
At 12.3 rebounds per game, Utah Valley’s Josie Williams is 5th nationally.
Stephen F. Austin & Grand Canyon find themselves among the national leaders in turnovers forced. At 25.50 per game the Lumberjacks are 2nd nationally, just 0.7 behind Niagara. The Lopes are also 7th in the country with 24.64 per game.
Aaliyah Collins of Chicago State is 9th in Steals Per Game at 3.4 per game. At 3.1 per game Seattle’s Bree Calhoun (Defensive Player of the Year last season) is just inside the top 20 (T16).
In terms of 3-point shooting Abilene Christian’s Kamryn Mraz, at 51.0% from the perimeter, is 14th nationally in percentage. Lamar’s Sabria Dean is 23rd at 46.2%. If qualified the Wildcats Taylor Morgan, at 48.5%, would be T17 in national three point percentage.