GCU Rebounds Big With 71-38 Win Over Mississippi Valley State

The Grand Canyon Antelopes bounced back from their double overtime loss at Boise State in a big way by blowing out Mississippi Valley State at home 71-38.

The Lopes put on a dominating performance defensively and from three-point range in front of Phoenix Suns season ticket holders who were in attendance for Suns Night at the GCU Arena. Former Suns’ coach and NBA executive Jerry Colangelo and former NBA player, Suns’ coach and GCU coach Paul Westphal were also in attendance and spoke to the season ticket holders before the game.

Dan Majerle has a close relationship with both of these guys because of his days playing for the Phoenix Suns. Colangelo was owner and chairman of the Suns while Westphal was both an assistant and head coach from 1988-1995. Majerle said it’s always fun having both of these guys back here at GCU.

Producing a blow out win, definitely helps.

Josh Braun led the Lopes with 16 points and 6 rebounds while Matt Jackson went 3-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 10 points.

Dan Majerle couldn’t talk enough about Matt Jackson, who has been apart of the program for 4 years now, and how great of a job he has done coming back from missing a whole year because of injuries. He will be a huge factor when the Lopes begin conference play.

“He’s just so smart,” Majerle said. “Not only when he shoots the ball well. He’s a good shooter. But he’s just so smart defensively and he knows what we’re trying to do offensively.”

Jackson’s conditioning is slowly coming back and he’s confident it will continue to get better from here.

“I think it’s finally starting to get back,” Jackson said. “My legs are finally getting there. My shots are feeling good right now. I mean it definitely took a while but it’s finally falling into place and I just hope that can continue.”

Grand Canyon opened the game hitting four straight 3-pointers, something the Lopes have been struggling with the past few games. Quick threes from Alessandro Lever, Josh Braun and Fiifi Aidoo had the Devils coach call a quick timeout.

The game was still within reach at the half but that’s when Grand Canyon went beast mode, holding the Devils to just 19 points in the second half and shooting 27 percent from the field. The Lopes also out rebounded them 49-to-30, breaking a previous season high record of 46 rebounds. The Lopes also had 16 offensive boards, leading to second chance points.

Senior forward Keonta Vernon was a big part of that spark in the second half.

“He did a better job in the second half at taking his time, using the mismatches in the post and just really put his effort on the offensive boards,” Majerle said. “Keonta is kind of our vocal and our leader out there.”

Majerle wasn’t too impressed with his teams performance in the first half and got on them about their shooting percentage.

“I said enough is enough,” Majerle said. “Got to concentrate, we’re still missing a lot of layups, we got to put the ball in the basket, got to make the extra pass, sometimes they’re still taking bad shots but we got to make the extra pass and penetrate.”

GCU definitely did a better job of utilizing ball movement in the second half and finding their shots with ease.

The Lopes have a tough schedule coming up before entering conference play with road games at Louisville and Illinois but Jackson isn’t too worried about that.

“We’re pretty confident,” Jackson said. “As I said we’ve had a few road bumps. We really could be 11-0. Everyday is trying to get better and the end goal is to win the WAC.”

The Antelopes host Longwood this Thursday, Dec. 21st at 8 p.m. MT. Be sure to tune in on your local YurView channel and online at GCU.TV for live game coverage.