Freshmen center Alessandro Lever scored a season high 30 points, and pulled down 10 rebounds, to lead the Lopes of Grand Canyon to a 76-64 win over the visiting Seattle Redhawks last night in Phoenix.
An energized crowd of 6,925 came ready to help the Lopes snap a three game skid, as the regular season winds down. GC Coach Dan Majerle said, "I thought we played with a lot of energy tonight. We had a little bit of a slow start to the second half, but overall it was what I want to see from our team. Our team played hard tonight and I am proud of them."
Grand Canyon jumped on top right from the start, but the Redhawks clawed their way back to get within one at 17-16, with 9:33 left in the opening half. The Lopes went on a 9-0 run to go up by ten, and led by nine 35-26 at the break.
Grand Canyon led for most of the contest, but Seattle did manage a brief 49-48 lead in the second half, but that was quickly erased, as the Lopes went on a 11-2 run to take a 59-51 lead, with 4:35 to play.
Marjerle said this about Lever after the contest, "He played a great game. He has tremendous work ethic and is the kind of player every coach wants. He has a great interest to learn, especially defense. He is getting better and we are lucky to have him here."
Lever scored in many ways, but he was probably most impressive at the free throw line, where he converted 14 of 15.
Majerle had a recent story about Lever he wanted to share. "Recently I had a scheduled flight and he (Lever) called me and said he wanted some one on one instruction, I knew I had my flght to catch, but I met him at 8:30 and we worked a full hour till I had to leave." Grand Canyon will have three more seasons to watch Lever grow, and coach Majerle is looking forward to it.
Josh Braun had 10 points in 36 minutes of action. Oscar Frayer and Matt Jackson tossed in 9 each for the Lopes.
Matej Kayas led the Redhawks with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Jordan Hill, who torched the Lopes in Seattle with 26 points on January 6, finished this time with 12. Seattle big man 7'3" Aaron Menzies scored eight points and had 10 rebounds before fouling out in the final minutes.
Majerle added about winning back at home. "With this crowd, we should be able to put together some wins and be ready for our tournament in Las Vegas. Any team has a chance to win it, so we need to be playing well going in to have a good opportunity."
GCU improves to (7-5) in the WAC and (18-10) overall. The Lopes will host Utah Valley on Saturday at 7pm. Their final regular season game will also be at home, next Saturday, versus CS Bakersfield. Seattle drops to (8-4) and (19-10).