PHOENIX, Ari. — No. 12 Grand Canyon won its ninth consecutive game with a 49-40 victory against Hawaii Hilo on Thursday night at Grand Canyon University Arena. The win improves the Antelopes to 13-1 overall and 5-1 in PacWest Conference play while the Vulcans fall to 7-7 and 4-2 in the conference.
The ‘Lopes shot 43.5 percent from the field and converted 7 of their 11 free throw attempts (72.7 percent). For the 13th time, GCU outrebounded their opponent as they improved to 12-1 in those contests.
GCU was led by Maylinn Smith’s 14 points, the 13th time this season she has reached the double-digit scoring mark. She scored 12 of her points in the second half, during which the ‘Lopes outscored the Vulcans 27-19. Joslynn Frazier led the ‘Lopes on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds and adding six points. Jallisa Butler chipped in with 10 points.
“We really kept our composure tonight,” Grand Canyon head coach Trent May said. “The girls did a good job of controlling the game during the last five or six minutes. They shared the ball well and played with more confidence during the second half.”
The two teams battled back and forth in the first period, with neither leading by more than three points. The Vulcans put the first points on the board with a three-pointer in the 18-minute mark. GCU took their first lead of the game at 14-13 with 8:49 remaining and grabbed the first-half lead for good with just under five minutes.
|TOP 25 SCORES|
|No. 2 Clayton State 80, Flagler 44|
|No. 9 Arkansas Tech 61, S.E. Oklahoma 55|
|Tiffin 84, No. 10 Wayne State (Mich.) 70|
|No. T12 Grand Canyon 49, Hawaii-Hilo 40|
|No. T12 Ashland 75, Saginaw Valley State 61|
|Ferris State 68, No. 19 Michigan Tech 65|
|No. 21 Wisconsin-Parkside 66, N. Kentucky 60|
The ‘Lopes went into the half with their smallest lead of the season with an advantage of 22-21. GCU has not trailed at the half in any of their 13 contests this season. The 22 points were the fewest they have scored in the first half this season despite posting a 45.0 fielding percentage (9-for-20). GCU had previously scored 25 points in their 54-46 victory against San Francisco State on Dec. 10, 2011.
Butler led the ‘Lopes in scoring at the half with six points, while Frazier and Petrolina Chilaka each added four points.
“The way that they responded after that close first half was excellent,” May added. “They stood by each other and played much better down the stretch.”
The second half opened in similar fashion, as the teams shared baskets over the first five and a half minutes before the Vulcans reclaimed the lead at 29-28. Angelina Dennison converted a three-point play with just under 10 minutes left to give GCU a three-point lead at 35-32. That would prove to be the turning point as the ‘Lopes then used a 10-4 run to extend their lead to nine points with just over two minutes remaining.
“When the basket went in and then I made the free throw, that put the momentum on our side,” Dennison said. “They had been scoring and it felt like we hadn’t scored in a while. It was definitely a spark for us.”
GCU allowed just four points to the Vulcans over the final five and a half minutes to hold on for the win.
“We stayed sound defensively, so we didn’t give them chances to shoot too many free throws,” May said. “That was key for us. In a physical game, you don’t want to get into a free throw shooting contest and get in foul trouble. I think we did a very good job of fighting through at the end of the game.”