COMMERCE, Texas (November 10, 2017) – In the opening weekend-play of the 2016-17 season, Lubbock Christian University let an eight-point fourth quarter lead slip away in a loss to Colorado State - Pueblo. Friday afternoon at Texas A&M-Commerce Field House, No.23 LCU opened the 2017-18 season holding off a surge by No.5 Colorado State – Pueblo and receiving a combined 29 points from Caitlyn Cunyus (16 points) and Olivia Robertson (13 points) to stake claim to a 57-52 win at the 1525 Tournament hosted by TAMUC.
LCU was able to prevail despite going the final 7:59 of the game without scoring a field goal. To add to the dramatics, LCU also went without the services of All-American Tess Bruffey the final 7:26, as she fouled out and was limited to 19 minutes due to fouls. Fortunately for LCU, the Lady Chaps led as much as 14 points (49-35) before CSU-P went the final 11:57 of the game out-scoring LCU 17-8. The most intense run for the ThunderWolves during their rally was a 7-0 run, which cut LCU's 53-41 lead to 53-48 with 3:10 remaining. LCU, unsuccessful on their last nine field goal attempts, was able to score their final four points from the charity stripe and hold CSU-P to one field goal in their final five attempts spanning the final 3:09 of the game.
The opening half was much tighter played. LCU opened the game 0-for-7 from the field and did not knock down their first bucket until Robertson hit a jumper 3:17 into the opening quarter. The Lady Chaps offense was held to a 20% shooting percentage in the opening quarter, but second chances provided LCU a 20-9 advantage in shot attempts and the two teams were tied 11-11 after the opening 10 minutes. There were 11 lead changes in the first half, and the last lead change came late in the second quarter. CSU-P, behind a Tuileisu Anderson three-pointer, took their largest lead (25-22) with 3:16 left in the half, but LCU answered back closing the half on an 8-0 run of an eventual 11-0 run. LCU led 30-25 at the half. They out-scored CSU-P 21-14 in the third quarter and Robertson and Maddi Chitsey combined to spur LCU onto a 7-0 run to lead 47-35, matching their largest lead of the game.
LCU forced CSU-P into 21 turnovers, leading to a 15-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Robertson produced a career-high five steals, marking the most by a Lady Chap since Nicole Hampton had five against West Texas A&M in the 2016 South Central Regional Tournament (Mar. 13, 2016).
Caitlyn Cunyus led LCU with a career high 16 points. She was joined in double figures by Robertson (13 points) and Maddi Chitsey, who had a career high in points (11) and rebounds (9). LCU shot 33.9% (20/59) from the field in the game, with a second half in which they shot 53.3% (8/15) in the third quarter and 8.3% (1/12) in the fourth quarter. Remove the game's opening 3:17 (0-for-7) and the final 7:59 (0-for-9) and LCU was 46.5% (20/43) from the field.
CSU-Pueblo received a game high 19 points from Molly Rohrer and 14 points from Anderson. The Pack (0-1) fell in the head coaching debut of Curtis Loyd in ironic fashion. He replaced Jim Turgeon, who also fell in his CSU-P coaching debut to LCU at the start of the 2015-16 season.
The Lady Chaps (1-0) improve to 25-14 all-time in season openers and 9-6 all-time in openers under head coach Steve Gomez. The win is their second win of their last seven games when opening the season away from home (both against CSU-Pueblo).
LCU's 11-0 run late in the first half, which carried into the second half with a Cunyus three-pointer, proved to be a big turning point, as LCU never trailed once taking the lead during the run. Four field goals came during the run, with Cunyus hitting three of them for 8 of the 11 points. Delaney Gaddis notched the other three points in the run with a three-pointer. CSU-P was 0-for-3 from the field during the run with five turnovers.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Last season against CSU-Pueblo (Nov.12, 2016), LCU received a career high in scoring from Bobbi Chitsey (17 points). Friday, it was her sister Maddi Chitsey recording a career high (11 points) against CSU-Pueblo.
LCU (1-0) remains in Commerce and will face Metropolitan State University of Denver Saturday at 5:30 p.m.