The Grand Canyon Lopes were in a trap game on Monday night, as the Academy of Art men’s basketball team came to town.
The Lopes were coming off a pretty successful five game road trip, where they won the final three games, and were naturally exhausted from the travel and games.
They were facing an Urban Knights team that had won just three games all season, so it could’ve been easy for the men to dismiss this game, but they didn’t.
A very tight, very physical game eventually went Grand Canyon’s way, as they pulled away for the 75-59 victory at GCU Arena.
The Lopes won their fourth straight game, and improved their record to 14-7, 8-5 in the PacWest Conference.
The loss dropped Academy of Art to 3-23, 1-13 in the conference.
Forward Braylon Pickrel led the Lopes with 19 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks and three steals.
Guard Jerome Garrison backed Pickrel up with 15 points of his own.
If you watched the game, you could never tell that the Urban Knights were a three win team, as they played Grand Canyon as hard and physical as they could.
Grand Canyon had a slim two point lead, 33-31, at the half.
Academy of Art didn’t shoot particularly well in either half, but in the first half, guard Ameer Shamsud-din was 2-12 from the field. He would end up 5-22 for the night for 15 points.
Guard William Overton Jr. led the Urban Knights with 18 points, and was called for a technical foul when he and Lopes forward Blake Davis got too physical and started jawing toward each other.
Talk about some good basketball…
The Lopes defense took command of the game in the second half, after the team came out a little shaky to start the period.
Academy of Art shot 21-60 for the game. They were 2-12 from three-point range.
Grand Canyon shot pretty well from the field, 24-53 from the field, including 5-14 from beyond the arc, considering how well Academy of Art played defensively. They were 22-26 from the free-throw line.
“We have the utmost respect for Academy of Art,” head coach Russ Pennell said. “They play hard and they’re a very difficult team to play against.”
Coach Pennell said he’ll give his guys a few days off to rest up after that long road trip and Monday night’s game.
The Lopes are back in action next Monday night against BYU-Hawaii at GCU Arena, tip-off at 6:30 p.m.