There were two highly competive college basketball games played in the "Air Force Reserve Colangelo Classic" at Talking Stick Resort, on Sunday in downtown Phoenix. Three of the four teams ranked in the top 10, with the local favorite, Grand Canyon University, made for a great afternoon of basketball.
#6 Nevada vs. Grand Canyon
Going up against the number six team in the nation, GCU came out playing fundamentally sound basketball, crashing the boards, limiting Nevada to one shot possessions, allowing only two offensive rebounds in the first half. Unfortunately is was not enough, as Nevada outscored GCU 24-6 from the free throw line in a 74-66 win over the Lopes at Talking Stick Arena. The Lopes are 0-6 versus top 25 teams all-time, but for a good portion of the game it looked like their chances to win one were good.
Things started out great for GCU as the Lopes were able to score while pitching a shutout for the first 5:38. Trey Drechsel came out hot, hitting back to back from downtown, and when Milstead's basket fell in, the Lopes led 11-0 with 14:53 to play in the first half. Alessandro Lever picked up his second foul and ended up playing only seven minutes, and scored two points in the first half.
Jordan Caroline's midrange jumper got the Wolf Pack on the board with 14:22. After that, Nevada went on a run as Caroline scored six of his teams next nine points to cut the Lopes lead to 14-11 with 11:10 to play in the first half.
The Wolf Pack pulled within two at 17-15 on a pair of free throws by Caleb Martin. The Lopes went back up by four at 19-15 at the media timeout when Drechsel scored again with 7:57 on the clock. Caleb Martin was awarded a three point play to trim the GCU lead to 19-18. Martin got one of two free throws to tie the score at 19 with 6:48 in the opening half.
Nevada's first lead came at the 6:15 mark, 21-19, on a layup by Jordan Brown. In what turned out to be 12-3 run by the Wolf Pack, prompted Lopes coach Dan Majerle to call a timeout with 4:13 to play and GCU trailing 27-22.
Alessandro Lever got on the board after sitting a spell with a midrange jumper with 3:24 left in the opening half to cut the deficit at 30-24. Michael Finke's hoop made it 30-28 with just under a minute to play. Nevada led 34-32 at the half, as Matt Jackson scored the final four GCU points.
The second half started with an inside basket by Lever to tie the game at 34.Dimari Milstead got a slow roller around the rim to drop to give GCU back at 34-32. Lever hit a three for a 39-38 lead 16:55. The Lopes play got a little sloppy allowing Nevada to regain the lead at 44-39 with 15:00 remaining.
Baskets by Lever and Michael Finke cut the deficit to 44-43, but the Wolf Pack made it look easy scoring inside to go up 52-45 at the 12:40. Milstead's back to back baskets pulled GCU to within 56-50 midway through the second half. Carlos Johnson hit a three and suddenly it was 57-53. A beautiful pass Milstead to a moving Carls Johnson ended up on an old fashioned three point play to make it 57-56.
Three chances to regain the lead came up with nothing, then Jazz Johnson hits a three in the corner to put Nevada up 60-56 with 6:49 remaining.
After nearly a four minute drought by the Lopes, Trey Drechsel’s third three trimmed the deficit to 62-59 4:05 remaining.
Lever pulled GCU to within one point at 62-61, when he wen to the line on the fourth foul on Jordan Caroline, making both with 2:55. Caroline, who finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds, returned the favor with a pair of free throws on Lever’s fourth foul at the 2:32 mark. The Lopes fought hard, but a were outscored 12-5 in the final three minutes. GCU missed some huge shots in the paint, along with a few free throws, plus with being beat soundly in the foul department, allowing Nevada a plus 18 points from the charity stripe.
The Wolf Pack, who just beat Arizona State 72-66 in Los Angeles on Friday night, were not surprised by the effort that the Lopes put out, and the Havoc student section.
Nevada coach Eric Musselman, “I thought coach Majerle did a great job preparing, coming out in a zone. We started off bad in both halves, but this will good for our team over the long haul. Playing six straight games away from home. Credit the environment and coach Majerle. It will help us in league play, and at schools with great student sections."
GCU coach Dan Majerle said, "I think we played well. We have high expectations of where we want to be as a program. I knew we were going to give them a game."
The Lopes (5-4) really hit the road for a big game at Texas, on Saturday, December 15, followed by another tough game at Northern Iowa on Wednesday, December 19. Nevada will host South Dakota State, Saturday, at 7pm.
#6 NEVADA WOLF PACK 74, GRAND CANYON ANTELOPES 66
Nevada (74)-Porter 0-1 0-0 0, Caleb Martin 3-11 6-8 13, Cody Martin 5-9 2-3 12,
Johnson 4-6 8-8 19, Caroline 6-13 8-10 22, Thurman 1-5 0-0 2,
Zouzoua 0-0 0-0, Henson 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 3-4 0-0 6. 22-51 24-29 74.
Grand Canyon (66)-Drechsel 6-10 0-0 16, Frayer 3-8 0-0 9, Lever 5-14 2-3 13, M. Finke 2-5 0-0 4, Milstead 5-12 0-0 11, Martin 0-3 0-0 0, Johnson 2-6 2-3 7, Jackson 2-3 2-2 6,
Blumbergs 0-0 0-0,T. Finke 0-0 0-0. 25-61 6-8 66.
Score by Half - 1 2 - T
Nevada 34 40 - 74
Grand Canyon 32 34 - 66
Total Fouls-Nevada 13, Grand Canyon 21
Three Pointers -Nevada (6)-Johnson 3, Caroline 2, Caleb Martin 1
Grand Canyon (10)-Drechsel 4, Frayer 3, Milstead 1, Lever 1, Johnson 1
#7 Tennessee vs. #1 Gonzaga
The first game of the day the number one team suffered their first defeat of the season. The game was decided on a three point basket by Admiral Schofield, whose shot put the Volunteers up by three with :24 left. Gonzaga had two opportunities to tie the game in the final seconds, but were unable to get a shot to drop. Schofield scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half.
The Zags fell behind 7-0 early and battled back to take the lead, but a last second shot gave Tennessee a one point lead at the break. It was close for the remainder, but Gonzaga held the lead, before the Volunteers battled back in the final minutes.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who has won 547 games in his career and has taken his team to the NCAA tournament every year he has coached the Bulldogs said, "It was a heck of a basketball game. We just ended up on the short end."
Volunteers coach Rick Barnes said, "It definitely had a March feel to this game. We found a way to to stay in there and just make plays. We relied on our older guys here at the end."
Tennessee improves to (7-1) and will play at Memphis on Saturday, while Gonzaga drops to (9-1) and will travel to face the #14 Tar Heels of North Carolina on Saturday.
#7 TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS 76, #1 GONZAGA BULLDOGS 73
Tennessee (76)-Schofield 12-22 0-0, 30, Williams 6-13 3-3 16, Pons 3-7 0-0 7, Bone 2-13 0-0 5, Alexander 1-3 0-1 2, Bowden 4-10 0-0 11, Fulkerson 1-2 3-6 5, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Walker 0-1 0-0 0. 29-72 16-23 76.
Gonzaga (73)-Hachimura 8-18 4-6 21, Clarke 8-12 5-9 21, Kispert 4-6 2–2 13, Norvell Jr. 5-13 0-0 13, Perkins 0-6 0-0 0, Petrusev 2-4 1-2 5, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Foster Jr. 0-0 0-0 0. 27-59 12-19 73.
Score by Half - 1 2 - T
Tennessee 34 42 - 76
Gonzaga 33 40 - 73
Total Fouls-Tennessee 16, Gonzaga 17
Three Pointers-Tennessee (12)-Schofield 6, Bowden 3, Williams 1, Pons 1, Bone 1. Gonzaga (7)-Kispert 3, Norvell Jr. 3, Hachimura 1.