LUBBOCK, Texas (December 2, 2017) – No.7/8 Lubbock Christian University received a career-high 20 points from Caitlyn Cunyus and the Lady Chaparrals opened their Heartland Conference schedule with a 67-62 win over Arkansas - Fort Smith Saturday to extend their Rip Griffin Center win streak to 40 games (longest active streak in NCAA Division II) and their streak of conference home wins to 43 games.
The contest featured seven lead changes and the score tied on 14 occasions, with neither team enjoying more than an eight-point lead margin. UAFS, who never led by more than four points in the game, led 6-2 with 6:27 left in the opening quarter, but LCU answered with field goals from Maddi Chitsey and Olivia Robertson to tie the contest 6-6. LCU never had a lead in the opening quarter and received a jumper at the horn from Delaney Gaddis to tie the score at the end of the quarter 8-8. UAFS missed their final 11 shot attempts in the quarter and it eventually fell into a 0-of-12 shooting slump for the Lady Lions. They went a span of 7:50 without a field goal, which ended with a Tayla Taylor layup 1:23 into the second quarter to tie the contest at 10-10 and end LCU’s 6-2 run during the sequence.
UAFS opened the game 5-of-30 (16.7%) from the field, but then picked up an offensive grove, closing the half making four of their final five shot attempts. Cunyus connected on a three-pointer with 3:03 left in the second quarter to provide LCU a 20-14 lead for their largest lead of the first half. The 8-2 LCU run was interrupted by UAFS closing the half hitting their final four shots of the half to cut Lady Chaps lead to 22-21 at the half. UAFS eventually included their 4-of-5 shooting streak to go 8-of-9, making their first four shot attempts of the second half.
In the combined portions of the second quarter and the third quarter, both teams found their offensive tempo. UAFS went a span of 8:39 going 10-of-13 (76.9%) from the field, while LCU went a span of 10:24 going 11-of-14 (78.6%) from the field (LCU went 9-of-10 inside the arc during the streak). Through the hot shooting, there were six occasions the score was tied and there were four lead changes in the quarter. The Lady Lions shooting success came to an end late in the quarter and they went the final 4:10 without a field goal off 0-of-7 shooting. LCU closed the third quarter outscoring UAFS 12-4 (capped by a Gaddis three-pointer at the horn) over the final 4:10 and took a 49-41 lead into the fourth quarter for their largest lead of the game.
Two of UAFS’s first three field goals in the final quarter were from three-point range and it helped them cut LCU’s lead to 51-49 with 6:23 remaining. A 12-3 UAFS run, stapled by a Tayla Taylor jumper with 4:10 left in the game, gave the Lady Lions a 53-52 lead. It was the first of two lead changes over the next 2:13. Mariah Green produced a layup off a steal to put UAFS up 55-52 with 3:55 left, but Cunyus answered at the other end with a three-pointer to tie the game 55-55. LCU eventually regained the lead with a layup from Tess Bruffey to go up 58-56 with 1:57 remaining. It was just one of two field goals (the only two-point field goal) in the quarter from LCU, who scored 13 points from the free-throw line in the quarter, with their final nine points coming from the line. The free-throw shooting was enough to hold off the Lady Lions, who closed the game 1-of-5 from the field.
LCU, out-scoring UAFS 28-22 in the paint, received double-digit offensive production from four Lady Chaps, led by Cunyus’ career high performance. Bruffey, who went 4-of-6 from the field in the second half after missing her first five shot attempts, produced her fifth double-double of the season (19th of her career) with 14 rebounds and 12 points, and also added five blocks and five assists. Delaney Gaddis (11 points and one shy of her career high) and Olivia Robertson (10 points) joined Bruffey and Cunyus in double figures in points. LCU had to overcome 20 turnovers in the game, which is the most they have committed in a victory since 24 in a win over Lenoir-Rhyne in Puerto Rico (Nov. 26, 2016). A contributor to the LCU turnovers was Lundon Williams, who produced six steals, which is the most by an opposing player this season and the most since Kyrstie Miller produced six for Emporia State against LCU on Dec. 3, 2016. UAFS was led by Tayla Taylor, who completed a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lady Chaps improved to 8-1 all-time against the Lady Lions, who fell to 5-4 on the season and 1-1 in Heartland Conference play. The win places LCU at 8-1 on the season and 1-0 to open conference play. They are now 4-1 in Heartland Conference openers, 13-2 all-time in conference openers under head coach Steve Gomez. LCU has not lost at home since Jan. 1, 2015 (against Oklahoma City) and has not lost a conference home game since Jan. 10, 2013 (against Oklahoma City), as they are 37-0 all-time in Heartland Conference home games.
With 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Sarah Elkins shot a wide-open three-point attempt. If it goes in, then LCU’s lead is cut to a two-point lead, but instead it was missed and Delaney Gaddis hit a three-pointer at the horn to give LCU a 49-41 lead. Gaddis made two field goals at the horn in the game to end the quarters (first and third).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Despite 20 turnovers, UAFS, who had 13 turnovers, did not fully take advantage of the turnovers forced, as they outscored LCU 18-15 in points off turnovers… LCU attempted 25 free-throws in the contest, but they did not have their first until 3:45 remained in the third quarter. The 25 attempts marks the second highest amount this season (26 against Ashland on Nov. 24). LCU made 18 of the free-throws to match a season high.
The Lady Chaps continues a four-game homestand Thursday inside Rip Griffin Center hosting Southwestern Oklahoma State.