Lady Thunderbirds Set to Face Grand Canyon for 2nd Time in 8 Days in WAC Semis

Lady Thunderbirds Set to Face Grand Canyon for 2nd Time in 8 Days in WAC Semis

By: Keller Sherman

Featured Image Courtesy of Southern Utah Athletics

LAS VEGAS — It took some March magic for Southern Utah to get past its quarterfinal opponent. One could argue that Grand Canyon needed the same to win its quarterfinal game. While the Lopes needed a fourth-quarter rally to get past upset-minded Seattle, the Thunderbirds needed something truly magical. To the shock of just about everyone in Orleans Arena on Wednesday night, they got it. Cherita Daugherty sunk a desperation heave at the buzzer to give her team a 62-61 win over New Mexico State. This capped off another routine comeback by the Lady Thunderbirds. SUU faced a 16-point deficit at halftime in which Traci Sanders ripped into her team in the locker room. That speech proved motivating as the Thunderbirds came out of the break on fire outscoring the Aggies 21-6 in the third frame.

Last Time Out

They call it March Madness for a reason. Down by five points with eight seconds left, it was going to take a miracle. ESPN’s win probability machine gave the Aggies a 99.9% chance to win following a missed jumper by Lizzy Williamson. In the following sequence, everything went the Thunderbirds’ way. Megan Jensen made an offensive rebound and got the ensuing layup. She then made a free throw after getting fouled. Cherita Daugherty fouled and sent NMSU’s Sylena Peterson to the line. Peterson missed both and the opportunity was officially there. SUU could win it on a three-pointer. Traci Sanders did not anticipate what happened next. She wanted Daugherty to have the ball, but the way in which she used it was not what Sanders had in mind. It did not matter in the end as her desperation heave went in and the Thunderbirds completed the comeback.

Looks Familiar…

SUU is facing Grand Canyon for the second time in eight days. When these two met just over a week ago, the Thunderbirds completed the regular season sweep over the Lopes. The 71-63 Thunderbird victory catapulted the team to an outright regular season title. Just eight days later, these two teams will face each other again with a berth in the WAC tournament championship game on the line. The winner of this game faces the victor of the other semifinal between Stephen F Austin and California Baptist.

One Last Look at the Lopes

When these two teams met eight days ago in Cedar City, the Lopes got more points from their bench than from their starters. The only two players they had in double figures in that game were not in the starting lineup. Alania Harper had fourteen and Dominique Phillips had ten. Neither of those is among the Lopes averaging 10 points or more per game. Olivia Lane, Naudia Evans, and Tiarra Brown average more than eleven. Four of those five aforementioned players hit double figures in the comeback over Seattle. Aaliyah Collins also hit that mark for GCU Wednesday night. While there is no do-it-all player on the Lopes’ roster, they can score when they need to most. The Thunderbirds will need to match that with the dynamic scoring they have if they want to come out of this game victorious.

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