SF State women's basketball falls to Grand Canyon in tournament championship game

SFSU basketball
SF State's Candyce Matthews (#10) attempts a pass against No. 17 ranked Grand Canyon during the CCAA/Pac West Shootout Dec. 10. Photo by Samantha Battles.

Despite a strong fight and an offensive rally in the last four minutes, the SF State women’s basketball team fell short in Saturday’s game against the Grand Canyon Antelopes. The clock ran out before the Gators could find the lead in the championship game of the CCAA/Pac West Shootout.

SF State had hopes of finishing the tournament on top after their win Friday against Cal State Stanislaus, their second win of the season. However, the Antelopes (6-1), who are ranked No. 17, out rebounded the Gators 52-33.

“Rebounding made the difference,” said head coach Joaquin Wallace. “We couldn’t keep them off the board.”

The Antelopes’ Jallisa Butler recorded 19 rebounds with 11 points, and was ultimately named to the all-tournament team’s most valuable player. Another Grand Canyon player, Maylinn Smith, was also named to the all-tournament team and contributed 12 points, and seven defensive rebounds.

“We played good defense,” said the Gran Canyon head coach Trent May. “(SF State) battled hard and took nothing lightly, but we stayed resilient and had a good win.”

The game had a slow start for both teams and by halftime the game looked even at a close 25-21 lead by the Antelopes. But as the teams returned for the second half, the Antelopes lengthened their lead, peaking in the last 15 minutes when they widened the gap by 16 points. They held the Gators scoreless in the first five minutes of the second half.

The Gators (2-7) continued to fight, forcing 27 turnovers but failed to find the net in most of the second half. Nicole Hicks led the team offensively with a season high of 25 points to accompany her four steals.

“We played hard together,” Hicks said, who was also named to the all-tournament team. “Even when it was bad, we didn’t crumble.”

Hicks spearheaded the late rally, in which the Gators gained a 10-point comeback. A few steals and layups put the Gators within six points of the Antelopes, but the clock ran out.

“We played hard till the end,” said Lauren Varney, who had 10 rebounds and four points. “They’re a good team and I thought we matched up well, but we just fell short.”

Wallace said that during the game, the team met all of their goals and objectives, but lacked consistency. He said the team would continue to work and focus on shooting.

The Gators hope to come back strong after winter break when they return to the court Dec. 29 to face UC San Diego.

“We keep maturing every game,” Hicks said. “We’ll continue to get better.”