Sleepless In Seattle: Top-Seed GCU Rolls

Photo Credit: David Kadlubowski/GCU Athletics

LAS VEGAS – Like a local craps table, the Grand Canyon Lopes may have started cold but when they got hot, the riches seemed to come in bunches Friday night for the Western Athletic Conference top-seed at the Orleans Arena.

The Lopes put together arguably their best half of basketball this COVID-shortened season and coasted to a 81-47 win over Seattle U to punch their ticket to the WAC Championship Game.

“We thought [Seattle] would come out with a lot of energy and they did,” head coach Bryce Drew said. “Really proud of our guys. It was one of our better defensive games of the year. One of our better shooting games of the year.”

The Redhawks started fast, racing out to a quick 8-0 lead in the first two minutes before the Lopes found their offensive footing. Basha High alum Gabe McGlothan provided spark off the bench, scoring four quick points and making hustle plays at both ends of the floor.

As the first half unfolded, the Lopes’ inside-outside game started to shine. GCU led 28-17 at the under eight-minute media timeout behind hot shooting (53% from the field, 80% on threes) and a decided advantage on the glass (16-8).

The lead would continue to balloon as Seattle U struggled from the field. Grand Canyon led 44-22 at the under four-minute media timeout and 49-27 at intermission as solid defense led to transition opportunities. Drew’s squad shot 55% from both the field and behind the arc.

The Lopes had a trio of players (McGlothan, Oscar Frayer, Jovan Blacksher, Jr.) score nine first-half points. They dominated the stat sheet top-to-bottom, out-rebounding the Redhawks 24-13, blocking four shots and holding an 8-2 assist advantage over the first 20 minutes.

The second half started much like the first ended, with GCU dominating. The lead grew to 57-33 at the first media timeout. 

Drew started to empty his bench midway through the second half which will be a benefit for an already well-rested group who’s played just once in the last six days.

“They had a great mindset and focus in practice,” the first-year head coach added. “They were really ready to play.” 

The Lopes’ killer instinct was evident as every player who hit the floor played with passion and selflessness.

“The attitude is we’re not done yet,” Blacksher said. “We still have a lot to accomplish.”

The Shadow Mountain High alum played an excellent all-around game scoring a team-high 15 points, while adding six rebounds and five assists. McGlothan and Chance McMillan added 14 each.

GCU will face the (3)New Mexico State-(2)Utah Valley winner Saturday night for a chance to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

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