The Grand Canyon University Lopes kept their home record perfect and improved to (5-3) overall, with a thrilling 69-67 over the Boise State Broncos at the GCU Arena in Phoenix.
It was another packed house at the GCU Arena as the theme was "White Out". White t-shirts were put on each seat to help fans support the Lopes. The amazing spirited student section once again did all they could do to help their team, and believe me, it paid off. "We don't ever want to disappoint this crowd. We get tremendous support here and you never want to lose at home," said Lopes Coach Dan Majerle.
After the game was tied at two, the Broncos slowly pulled out in front, building an 18-9 lead with 12:16 in the first half, promting GCU coach Dan Majerle to call a timeout. A pair of baskets by Trey Drechsel, and an old fashioned three point play Dimari Milstead cut the deficit to 18-16. When Drechsel drilled a three pointer with 6:57 left in the first half, the Lopes had their first lead 24-22. Matt Jacskon's basket increased the lead to 30-24, but a pair of missed layups and turnover gave Boise St. some help in getting back into the game. The Broncos outscored the Lopes 12-5 in the final five minutes of the half to lead 36-35 at the break.
Boise State (2-5) continued their run in the second half, as the Broncos went on a 10-0 to boost their lead to 46-35 with 15:12 to play. The GCU dry spell lasted a total of six and a half minutes, but finally ended when Matt Jackson hit a much needed three pointer, cutting the deficit to 46-38 with 15:00 left. The Lopes slowly climbed out of the hole. Dimari Milstead layup with 11:42 to play pulled the home team within two at 48-46.
Carlos Johnson went hard to the basket to give GCU their first lead since the first half, 57-56 with six minutes left. It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the game as both teams exchanged the lead four different times.
Down 65-64, Alessandro Lever picked a great time to score his first basket, as he backed his way into the key and made a jump hook with :39 to play to give the Lopes the lead 66-65.
RJ Williams, the 6-7 junior led all scorers with 23 points, was a thorn in the Lopes side all evening, coming up with play after play. But Williams was called for traveling going to the basket and the turnover gave GCU the ball back. Dimari Milstead made a pair of huge free throws and it was 68-65 with :21 left. Malek Harwell brought the Broncos back within one on a pair of free throws to make it 68-67 with :11 on the game clock. The Lopes got the ball inbounds and Trey Drechsel was fouled with only :04 remaining. Drechsel missd the first, but made the second. The Broncos ran out of time sending the packed arena into a concert of celebration.
Coach Dan Majerle, "That's a well coached Boise State team. They have been a good program for a long time. Our guys battled hard and we found a way to get one. That second group really scrapped. We had some great performances. It was a good team win."
The bench dug the Lopes out of holes in the first and second half. "We bring them in, going a little smaller (size). There job is to come in the game and change in a hurry, and they did that," said the coach.
Regarding the performance of the starting five,"We have to play better as a team. They will bounce back and we are going to need them to play better," Majerle added.
The GCU bench accounted for 39 of the 69 points in the game. Carlos Johnson 14, Dimari Milstead 13, and Matt Jackson 10, accounted for 37 of those points. Gerard Martin added two points, but was more impressive defensively. Free throws were an issue as both teams struggled in that department, but the effort put out by both squads was impressive to watch. The Lopes outrebounded the Broncos 29-28.
GCU will play in the Air Force Reserve Colangelo Classic at Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix next Sunday, December 9, versus highly ranked Nevada at 3:30pm. The first game of the day will match top ranked Gonzaga versus Tennessee at 1:00pm. For more information and game schedule, go to www.gculopes.com