GCU can't return favor in Phoenix
It was not to long ago that the Grand Canyon Lopes were on the verge of their first win over New Mexico State in Las Cruces, but a half court shot at the buzzer turned it into another loss. This time the Lopes were seeking to right the ship so to speak by taking a game here in Phoenix. Unfortunately for GCU, that did not happen. Grand Canyon suffered their second consecutive home loss with a 67-64 setback to the New Mexico State Aggies, in front if a sellout crowd at the GCU Arena, Saturday night.
Prior to the game, a statue of Jerry Colangelo was unveiled just outside of the GCU Arena. Mr. Colangelo, who has been a huge part of the Phoenix area and Grand Canyon University, spoke for a few minutes. He said, "God has a plan for each one of you. I hope that this statue, for what it is, can serve as some kind of inspiration for the students here." His comments were addressed to fans and the student section known as the Havocs, who suddenly started chanting Jerry, Jerry.
Moments later, the arena opened and it was time for basketball and the amazing atmosphere that goes with it. The Lopes opened up with a three by Alessandro Lever, then AJ Harris answered with a three of his own to tie the game, and we all knew what kind of game we were instore for. The Lopes slowly built a lead behind a very active Lever to go up 12-8 with 16:25 in the first half. New Mexico State who used the long range jumpers to go on a 10-0 run to build a 18-14 lead at the 12:31 mark. The Aggies continued to build the lead to 27-19, but the Lopes battled back to tie the game at 33 with 1:13 left in the half. Eli Chuha's layup at the buzzer gave New Mexico State a 35-33 at the break.
GCU came out with determination and it showed as the Lopes opened up a 41-25 led by going on a 8-0 run tot start the second half. After an Aggie timeout, the tide changed as the Lopes struggled to score and New Mexico State used a pesty defense to come back to take the lead 45-44 with 10:56 left.
The game was tied at 47 with just under nine minutes remaining, and things began to unravel a bit for GCU. Second chance points, brought on by offensive rebounds proved costly as Terrell Brown drilled a three to put the Aggies up 50-47. New Mexico State went up 62-53 on back-to-back threes by Brown with 3:55 to play. GCU responded and when Michael Finke scored on a fastbreak, the deficit was just 62-57. Finke added a pair of free throws and it was a one score contest, 62-59 with 1:54 to play. After an Aggie free throw, Lever knocked down a three, and it wass 63-62 with 1:24 left. New Mexico State would score their final five points from the charity stripe, but in the end, the Lopes had a chance to pull even. Carlos Johnson three pointer fell short at the buzzer.
GCU coach Dan Majerle said, "I told our guys that if we win in the rebounding war, we win the game. We got beat badly (36-28) on rebounding tonight, so we lost the game."
The Lopes fall to (7-3) in the WAC and (14-9) overall. GCU hits the road to Kansas City for a game with UMKC, Thursday night at 5pm (AZ time), then to Chicago St. on Saturday, for a 1:05pm tip (local time). New Mexico State sits atop the WAC at (9-1) and (20-4) overall. GCU will return home on February 21 to face Cal Baptist.
NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES 67, GRAND CANYON ANTELOPES 64
New Mexico St. (67)-Chuha 5-6 5-8 15, Brown 4-9 0-0 12,Harris 4-11 0-0 11, Henry 4-6 0-0 9, Bobbitt 3-7 0-0 7, Queen 3-9 0-0 6, McCants 2-3 1-2 5, Zamora 1-2 0-0 2, Aurrecoechea 0-4 0-0 0, Buchanan 0-1 0-0 0. 26-58 6-10 67.
Grand Canyon (71)-Drechsel 1-3 2-2 4, Milstead 4-8 4-4 12, Lever 4-10 0-0 11, Frayer 3-7 2-2 9, M. Finke 6-11 2-2 16, Johnson 2-4 2-4 7, T. Finke 2-2 0-2 5, Jackson 0-3 0-0 0, Blumbergs 0-1 0-0 0. 22-49 12-16 64.
Score by Half - 1 2 - T
New Mexico St. 35 32 - 67
Grand Canyon 33 31 - 64
Total Fouls-New Mexico St. 16, Grand Canyon 16
Three Pointers-New Mexico St. (9)-Brown 4, Harris 3, Henry 1, Bobbitt 1. Grand Canyon (8)-Lever 3, M. Finke 2, Frayer 1, Johnson 1, T. Finke 1