Stephen F. Austin beats GCU in WAC Tournament final
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Zya Nugent scored 20 points with 12 rebounds plus six assists and top-seeded Stephen F. Austin beat second-seeded Grand Canyon 74-57 on Saturday to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament in its first year as a league member.
Stephen F. Austin (28-4) is headed to the NCAAs for the 18th time, the previous 17 trips coming during its 34 years in the Southland Conference.
Tasharian Robinson made 5 of 7 3-point attempts and added 19 points and Stephanie Visscher scored 15 points with five assists for the Ladyjacks, who shot 53%, made 12 of 21 from the arc and never trailed.
Ja’mya Powell-Smith scored 14 points with five steals, Jay McChristine added 12 points and Kiyley Flowers had 10 for Grand Canyon (22-9), which lost to California Baptist in last year's championship game. The Antelopes shot only 35% and made just 4 of 20 3-point tries.
The Ladyjacks led by double figures for the entire fourth quarter reaching a game-high 22-point margin with 4:23 left after a 13-3 run over three minutes.
Grand Canyon cut a 14-point halftime deficit to three in the third quarter after outscoring SFA 14-3 over the first six minutes. The scoring burst included 3-pointers by Flowers and Powell-Smith after the Antelopes missed their first 10 from the arc. But the Ladyjacks finished the next four minutes on a 13-4 run with Angel Scott scoring five of the last six and they were back up by 12.
Nugent scored 13 points and Robinson added three 3-pointers in the second quarter when the Ladyjacks made 8 of 11 shots and pulled away for a 33-19 halftime lead after an 11-all first-quarter tie.
The game matched teams ranked in the top 10 in both steals and turnovers forced and that was borne out with a combined 42 turnovers and 18 steals, 13 by GCU.
SFA beat the second-place Antelopes 61-43 on its way to winning the regular-season title by three games at 17-1. Its lone conference loss came in a 76-74 setback to UT Rio Grande Valley in its regular-season finale before beating fourth-seeded Utah Valley in tournament semifinals.
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