Grand Canyon Athletics

Behind a 38-point performance from Division II All-America candidate Samantha Murphy, No. 12 Grand Canyon defeated No. 10 Dixie State 79-71 at Antelope Gymnasium Saturday.

Murphy scored 26 in the second half -- 23 in the final 11 minutes -- to propel the Antelopes to a key Pacific West Conference win and a school-record 10th consecutive home victory.

GCU improved to 18-2 overall and 6-1 in the PacWest. Dixie State fell to 16-2 and 6-1.

Murphy also had nine rebounds and seven assists. Senior Rosalyn Nelson had 10 points and 11 assists. Jallisa Butler had 16 points.

Grand Canyon trailed most of the first half and by as much as 15 points, 25-10. It fought back to get within six, 39-33, at halftime.

“I feel like this win was all about heart,” said Murphy. “We came out super-energized and we got down, but we never got down on ourselves.”

Grand Canyon shot only 36.7 percent (11-of-30) in the first half and was outrebounded 22-12.

It did help force 36 Dixie State turnovers, 19 in the second half.

When Murphy hit the first of her four second-half 3-pointers at the 10:53 mark of the second half, it cut Dixie’s lead to 52-49. It was the first made 3-pointer for the ‘Lopes and it kick-started an unforgettable run by Murphy, whose hot-shooting energized her teammates and the 1,250 on hand for Saturday’s memorable win.

“The crowd was absolutely phenomenal,” said GCU head coach Trent May, who picked up his 199th career win. “That was the best crowd, best electric atmosphere in my five years at Grand Canyon. I can’t thank them enough, from our administration to everyone that filled the seats.”

When Murphy drove the lane for a lay-in, it gave GCU a 58-57 lead with eight minutes remaining, but the fight for victory was far from over. “

Junior Stevie Kamp hit two free throws to break a tie at 65-65 with 3:48 to go and Murphy hit another 3-pointer to give GCU a 70-65 lead. Murphy scored the ‘Lopes final 12 points.

“Unbelievable, fantastic ..,” said May of Murphy’s heroics. “You shake your head, but then you say, ‘That’s Sam.’ She got a lot of support from Roz and everyone.”

Murphy hit 9-of-17 from the field and 16-of-18 from the free-throw line. She also had a team-high three steals. Nelson had her typical stat-stuffing game. Along with her double-double in points and assists (her 11 assists were one shy of her career-high). She also had four rebounds and two steals.

Nelson has 495 career rebounds and is No. 4 on the all-time list. Murphy upped her school-record career-point total to 1,877. Nelson is at 1,439.

Grand Canyon, Dixie State and Hawai’i Pacific all have only one conference loss. HPU is 8-1 in conference play, while GCU and Dixie State are both 6-1.