SAINT GEORGE, Utah — The Dixie State women's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker tonight to 19th-ranked Grand Canyon 73-71 in a double-overtime thriller at the Burns Arena. The Red Storm dropped their first conference game of the season (5-1) and fall to 7-7 overall. The Antelopes improve to 13-4 overall and 5-1 in the Pacific West Conference.
"Obviously tonight's loss was a tough one," head coach Angie Kristensen said. "I felt like when we got to the overtime we were in the drivers seat."
Junior forward Johnna Brown (Las Vegas, NV/Centennial ) took her team and put her on her back. She scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to earn her eighth double double of the season. Brown had earned her double double by intermission, grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring 11 points.
"Johnna Brown played the game of her life both offensively and defensively and she really stepped it up," Kristensen said.
GCU scored first in the contest and the two teams traded baskets for two minutes before the Red Storm took their first lead via a three-pointer with 17:33 on the clock. Dixie State extended their advantage to 13-7 over the next four minutes as the ‘Lopes were just 2-for-13 from the field in the game’s first seven minutes.
GCU then used an 8-2 run over the next few minutes to knot the score at 15 with just over 11 minutes to play in the first. The Red Storm then reclaimed a 25-18 lead, their largest of the first half, after outscoring the ‘Lopes, 10-3, over the next five minutes.
GCU made it a one-point contest, 26-25, with 1:29 remaining, and with neither team able to score for the remainder of the half, Dixie State carried a narrow lead into the locker room.
Dixie State quickly built a five-point lead, 32-27, over the first two minutes of the second half. A 4-0 run by the ‘Lopes over the next 30 seconds once again made it a one-point game at 32-31 with just over 17 minutes to play. The Red Storm responded with a 4-0 run of their own over the next minute to build a five-point lead at 36-31.
The pattern continued once more as the ‘Lopes pulled within one point, 36-35, with 14:06 on the clock and claimed their second lead of the contest, 39-38, at the 12-minute mark. GCU extended their lead to as many as six points before Dixie State tied the score at 47 with six and a half minutes to play. The game was tied twice more, last with 1:40 on the clock with the teams knotted at 52 and overtime came as the two teams were at a stalemate.
GCU scored first in the extra minutes via a Jones layup and an important defensive stop leading to another basket put the ‘Lopes ahead by four points, 56-52, with just over four minutes remaining. After GCU went up by four once again, 58-54, Kaylah Miller (San Diego, CA/La Jolla Country Day) connected on a big three pointer to pull the Red Storm within one point, 58-57, at the 3:27 mark.
Smith then drained the first three-pointer for GCU just 24 seconds later to put her team ahead 61-57. Dixie State pulled within one point, 61-60, with just under 40 seconds to play and forced a GCU turnover with 15 seconds on the clock.
After a Red Storm timeout, Brown drove baseline and drew a foul with just 2.4 seconds remaining. She missed the first free throw off the front of the rim and GCU head coach Trent May tried to ice her by calling a timeout. Out of the timeout, Brown connected to force the second overtime.
Dixie State won the tip and was first to score and built a five-point lead at 69-64 with under three minutes to play before the ‘Lopes chipped away to get within one point, 69-68, with 1:38 on the clock. Daniels successfully converted a three-point play to give GCU a 71-69 lead with just over one minute remaining. Dixie State’s Brown made two free throws to tie the score at 71 with 40 seconds to play.
After the free throws by Brown, the Lopes missed a jumper with 18 seconds left and all the Red Storm needed to do was secure the rebound, but GCU maintained and called a timeout to draw up their final play with 12 second remaining.
Smith took the ball at the top of the arc and drove down the left side and popped a 12-footer to put the Lopes ahead 73-71 with five seconds left.
The Storm had a chance, and needed to go the length of the court, but could not get a shot off before time expired.
"I am proud of our fight, but we needed more players to step up tonight. Especially down the stretch, we needed to rebound better down the stretch," Kristensen said.
Dixie State shot 43.3 percent (29-67) from the field and outrebounded the Lopes 48-45 but committed 21 turnovers that helped fuel the GCU comeback. Erica Hayes (East Palo Alto, CA/Menlo-Atherton) added 11 points off the bench for DSC.
Grand Canyon shot just 35.8 percent (29-81) and was led by four players in double figures. Smith scored 16 points, two of which were the game winner. Deanna Daniels recorded a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Judy Jones chipped in 14.
"It was a great game played by two great teams unfortunately we came up short," Kristensen concluded. "But we can't think about it very much we have to turn our focus to Azusa Pacific"
Dixie State travels to Azusa, Calif., for a matchup with Azusa Pacific on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. MT.