(Phoenix, AZ) Inside the arena it was “throw back” jersey night with the Antelopes wearing their NAIA Championship uniforms from 1975, 1978 and 1988.
GCU currently was tied for the #2 seed for upcoming WAC Basketball Tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas March 11-14.
Tonight’s game was the next stepping stone against the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The Lopes schedule was front loaded and now five of the final seven games are at home, which is a huge advantage down the stretch.
The game started with both treats pushing the ball and trying to force the action. GCU maintained a 17-14 at the nine minute mark.
Although this has been a challenging season for Coach Dan Majerle and the Lopes, they found themselves in a favorable position trying to get a first round bye in the WAC tournament. Having to play one less game after a grueling season could make a big difference.
The Roos took the lead at the 3:55 mark 26-23 off a three point jumper from Franck Kamgain.
After starting out shooting 55% early on, the GCU went cold and trailed 32-26 at the half.
The Roos in the first twenty minutes went 15-28 (53%) to GCU’s 43% (9-21), all other stats were very even.
Jovan Blacksher led the Lopes with twelve points and Carlos Johnson with nine but the rest of the team had only five points.
UM-Kansas City had balanced scoring with nine players scoring.
Grand Canyon came back in the first part of the second half and tied the score at 36-36 off two free throws by Lorenzo Jenkins with 14:19 to go in the game.
The Antelope defense stepped up and as the Roos cooled down to under fifty percent for the first time in the game.
GCU retook the lead 43-42 with 11:58 left and quickly scored again off a trey by Isaiah Brown, 46-42.
For most of the season, GCU has had to fight back after halftime deficits.
The game got sloppy for about four minutes with each team turning the ball over .
UMKC had a chance to tie the score but missed a free throw on a conventional three point conversion. Antelopes up 49-48 with 6:03 left in the game.
Lever was fouled after making a shot from the left baseline, but missed the free throw.
The Roos came back and took the lead as if to say, “if you want to give us this game, we’ll take it.” 53-51 down the stretch.
GCU tied it again 53-53 only to see the Roos come back with three baskets at the other end and lead by six, 59-53 with only 2:28 left and a Dan Majerle timeout off a KCU 6-0 run.
The Antelopes forced to press got a turnover made good on two Lever free throws and a steal off the inbounds pass and a four to put Blacksher at the line where he sank both free throws and the score was tied at 59-59 off a GCU 6-0 run. A timeout by the Roos was called with only 1:06 left in regulation.
A quick basket by UMKC and Majerle called a timeout to set things up. Lorenzo Jenkins hit a long two from the top of the key to tie it back up at 61-61, the clock showed .09 seconds left.
A long inbounds pass was stolen by the Lopes to end regulation play tied at 61-61.
A textbook GCU pick and roll for a basket gave them the lead fork just a moment as Rob Whitfield hit a bomb from the left side to put KCU back up 64-63.
UMKC’s Brandon McKissic fouled out at the 3:03 mark in overtime and Johnson made them pay with two clutch free throws to put the Lopes back up.
Blacksher followed with a second chance trey to make it a two possession game 68-64 with under a minute left.
UMKC’s Javan White got the deficit back down to a single basket with a layup with forty five seconds to go, 68-66.
The dagger came with twenty six seconds left as Brown drained a three straight on and the. Antelopes came away with a very hard fought win 71-66.
Where the Roos totally dominated scoring inside, 46-20, the scrappy GCU squad came up big at the charity stripe going 28-36 (77.8%) to offset the UMKC’s dominance inside.
Up next on Saturday the 4-21 Chicago State Cougars come to the Arena. Grand Canyon can’t afford a letdown due to the WAC’s last place team. Game time is 7 pm.