The GSAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament Finals take place at CU Arena at Concordia tonight, March 5, and will be televised live on Fox College Sports and Prime Ticket for the first time in conference history.
In the women's finals, No. 1-seed Westmont and No. 2-seed Vanguard meet for the third time this season at 5:00 pm. Vanguard leads the all-time series between the two schools, 28-9. Westmont has won the last four contests, including both match-ups this season, however, Vanguard won 68-66 the last time the two teams met in the conference finals in 2010. Both teams received two byes before playing in the semifinals to qualify for the championship game. Westmont defeated No. 4 San Diego Christian and Vanguard beat No. 6 Biola.
The NAIA No. 3-ranked Westmont Warriors completed an undefeated conference season with a 14-0 record and an overall mark of 25-3. They are led by GSAC Coach of the Year Kirsten Moore and two-time GSAC Player of the Year Tugce Canitez. Canitez averages a GSAC-leading 21.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game and ranks second and third in those statistical categories in the NAIA, respectively. Her teammates, who also were named to the All-GSAC team, are Kelsie Sampson who averages 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, and Esther Lee, with 11.2 points per game. Westmont is the defending GSAC Tournament Champion and is making its third appearance in the finals.
The No. 8-ranked Vanguard Lions finished second in the conference with a mark of 11-3 and an overall record of 25-3. Vanguard is led by Coach Russ Davis and All-GSAC selections Nicole Ballestero and Esther Timmermans. Ballestero leads the GSAC in assists at 4.8 per game and is second in scoring with 21.0 points per game, while Timmermans is second in the conference with 10.0 rebounds per game. This will be the seventh GSAC tournament appearance in the past ten year for the Lions, who won the NAIA National Championship in 2008.
The GSAC Men's Basketball Tournament finals follow at 8:00 pm with No. 3-seed Arizona Christian facing No. 4 Concordia. The two teams split their meetings during the regular season with Arizona Christian upsetting Concordia, 84-82, in its inaugural GSAC game, and Concordia returned the favor, winning 91-88 in overtime in the final regular season game.
This is the first appearance in the GSAC Tournament for the No. 24-ranked Arizona Christian Firestorm (20-8, 8-6 GSAC), which joined the conference in the summer of 2012. The Firestorm are led by first-year head coach Jeff Rutter and All-GSAC team members Jordan Block, averaging 15.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and Charles King, averaging 14.7 points per game. They defeated No. 6 The Master's and upset No. 2 Hope International, to advance to the finals.
The defending NAIA national champion Concordia Eagles (21-10, 7-7 GSAC) are led by Coach Ken Ammann and All-GSAC selections Dakota Downs, averaging 16.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and Tim Harris who averages 16.3 points. The Eagles have reached the finals for the ninth time in the past 11 years with a win over No. 5 seed Vanguard and an upset victory at top seed Westmont.
To see the complete schedules and results, go to GSAC Basketball Tournament. Watch the games live at CU Arena on the campus of Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for GSAC students and children 18 and under, and $8 for seniors 62+. Both games will be televised on Fox College Sports, and the men's game will also be shown on Prime Ticket. Live stats will also be available at these links: Women's Basketball Live Stats and Men's Basketball Live Stats.