Grand Canyon University

Poor shooting and effort sink Lopes 61-57

Photo/ Ramiro Contreras - 602 Sports Talk

(Phoenix, AZ)  California Baptist out of Riverside California came into raucous Grand Canyon Arena where the fans are rabid and the student section is arguably the best in the nation. The kids never sit down the entire game.

The Antelopes came into the contest 5-10 overall, and have had a less than stellar season to date.  Coach Dan Majerle’s team was 0-1 and looked to get even in the first game after the holiday break.

The Lancers came in 11-5 on the season and 2-1 in the WAC.

CBU started out fast to a quick 7-2 lead but the Lopes came back in a hurry to tie the game at 9-9 at the thirteen minute mark.

Both teams pushed the ball, sometimes even when it’s not there. The WAC brand of basketball.

At the second media timeout CBU had regained the lead 15-11.

Early on,  the Antelopes had only two players with points. Center Alessandro Lever led with six points and Guard Carlos Johnson at five points.

Cal Baptist was paced by their backcourt trio of Milan Acquaah and Ferron Flavors Jr. both with five points and redshirt senior Brandon Boyd with six points.

Neither team shot the ball well in the first half as seen by just the small leads each team was able to attain.

A three pointer by junior Bul Kuol with two seconds left gave the Lancers a 28-22 lead heading into halftime.

CBU as they did in the start of the game shot out of the locker room on an 10-2 run and increased their lead double digits 38-24.

At the 14;58 GCU got a free throw from Carlos Johnson, but the Lancers came right back with a dunk from Glenn Morrison, 42-27.

Johnson created his own shot off a nice drive to score and got fouled.  He completed the three point play that finally got the Lopes going and back within ten points 42-32 with thirteen minutes to go.

Johnson wanted to carry the Antelopes on his back as the offense began to click and forced a Cal Baptist timeout.

One glaring observation was that the. Lopes shot selection was terrible and they weren’t moving without the ball either.

All the height was graduated from last year’s squad, but with a guard oriented offense,  the good ball movement was almost non-existent.

With. 8:15 left, GCU scratched back within seven, 49-42 at the media timeout.

Johnson out of the timeout drove right side and kissed it high off the glass and Lever followed with another layup and the deficit was suddenly three at 49-46.

Two quick buckets down on the other end and the Lancers were back up by seven 53-46 with 4:21 left.

The Lopes first three point bucket came with 3:11 to go in the game. With a perimeter oriented team, you need much more production and scoring from the outside in order to losen up the opponents defense.

Mikey Dixon made a spectacular layup with two Lancers hanging all over him on an 11-5 Lopes run and hit the free throw to draw the game into a one possession  affair 58-57 with 46.9 seconds left and a CBU timeout.

Once again, the Antelopes shot selection wasn’t patient enough and a forced three point attempt to tie it up wasn’t even close.

The Lancers withstood GCU’s comeback attempt and won 61-57.

The obvious perception is the this GCU team has a lot of work to do to become competitive. At times, it looks like five individuals are playing one on five basketball, at other times, they come together and play scrappy hard nose ball.

What concerns Majerle is the lack of cohesiveness and hunger that the team displays.

He stated in the post game press conference, “I will be making some changes. He also took 100% of the blame for his team’s poor play.

The Antelope defense had held Cal Baptist to 28.9% shooting for the field and 35.8% for the game, yet came up short on the scoreboard.

Going 2-13 from three point land won’t win you many games either.

They travel to the Midwest next on 16th, to face the Chicago State Cougars who are having their own issues at 4-15 and winless in the WAC after four games. To their credit, the Cougars have played Purdue, Florida State and Missouri this season.

So it will be a battle of the basement dwellers to see who can get their first conference win.



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