GCU men and women’s basketball receive postseason bids

slider gcu_lopesThe Grand Canyon University men’s basketball team (19-7) was awarded the eighth seed in the West Region for the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament, as announced by the NCAA.com selection show. The men will face off against top-seeded and host Western Washington (25-5) on Friday at 8:30 p.m. (Arizona time). This is the first postseason appearance for the Antelopes since the 2006-07 season and first under head coach Russ Pennell.

Other teams in the region include No. 2 Alaska Anchorage, No. 3 Seattle Pacific, No. 4 Humboldt State, No. 5 Cal State Chico, No. 6 Dixie State and No. 7 Montana State-Billings.

The winner of the West Region finals will play the winner of the South Central Region.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said head coach Russ Pennell. “It just seems like this whole year has been about hanging in there and being tough-minded. Even down to today, we had to sit and wait and be ready for an answer either way. It seemed like God smiled on us and gave us this opportunity to be in the tournament. We are one of 64 that have a chance to win a national championship, something you can’t do unless you get in. We are in. And that’s exciting.”

“It is an unbelievable feeling when you see that your team is actually in,” said senior Kyle Speed. “We have been sitting around all day waiting for this moment, and praying and hoping that we would get this opportunity. But to actually see it on the screen and know that it is a reality, it is the best feeling in the world. When you are a little kid growing up playing basketball, you dream about a moment and opportunity like this that you can share with your team. This is something we won’t forget for the rest of our lives.”

The GCU women’s basketball team (23-3) received the third seed in the West Region for this year’s NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament, as announced on the NCAA.com selection show. The Antelopes will play the sixth-seeded Cal Poly Pomona (19-8) on Friday at host and top-seeded UC-San Diego, with times to be announced later. Pomona knocked GCU out of the tournament last season in the West Region finals.

“It is a familiar name when you are playing the team that knocked you out of the tournament the year before,” said head coach Trent May. “You don’t have to say much about playing a team like that. There’s a motivational aspect to that. We both are good teams. We have everything to gain in this game. That is why this is March Madness, because anything can happen. We should take great confidence in the things we have been doing all year and the character of this team. That is what we are excited about to be playing during this part of the season.”

The ‘Lopes defeated Dixie State, 71-54, last night to claim the outright Pacific West Conference title, their fifth in the past six seasons.

Other teams in the region include the No. 2 seed Alaska Anchorage, No. 4 seed Western Washington, No. 5 seed Cal State Monterey Bay, No. 7 seed Cal State Los Angeles and the eighth-seeded Cal State Chico.

“We are so excited because being able to play in the NCAA tournament and the emotion that is involved is a driving force right now,” said sophomore Maylinn Smith. “It is all adrenaline this time of year. I know a lot of the girls that weren’t there last year won’t understand why playing Pomona is so great like the returners do, but they will understand once we get there. It is going to be awesome. We just need to focus on what we do every single night and do it well.”