Grand Canyon Stays ‘Lit’ To Close out Game 64-59 Against NCCU

It was a Merry ‘Litmas’ Game at GCU Arena and Christmas came early for the Lopes as they were able to secure their seventh win of the season after defeating the North Carolina Central University Eagles 64-59 but it wasn’t without a fight.

“A win. So I’m happy,” Dan Majerle said with a smile.

But coach wasn’t too thrilled about his teams’ performance down the stretch in the second half when they gave up a 10-point lead and allowed the Eagles to make too many trips to the free throw line.

“Just a lot of mental mistakes more than anything,” Majerle said. “Just not following assignments and doing the things that we’re supposed to do so that was a little concerning.”

GCU got lost on a couple back door cuts and gave up too many and-ones. Just like that, the Eagles got within one point with 44 seconds left. The Lopes had trouble containing Raasean Davis, the 6’9”, 240-pound junior, as he went for 16 points and 9 rebounds. The Eagles scored 34 points in the paint.

GCU played well in the first half, though, after figuring out NCCU’s zone. The ball movement was there and they were knocking down shots beyond the arc and attacking the basket. GCU shot 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three to start.

“I think everybody did a good job of that tonight,” Josh Braun said. “I think that was big for us. Attacking the gaps and trying to make that zone shrink in a little bit that was huge.”

Braun had 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds while Casey Benson added a nice stat line of 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. The team as a whole had 16 assists and did a good job at getting everyone involved.

Majerle went with the same new starting lineup he want with on Saturday, adding Fiifi Aidoo and Alessandro Lever into the mix.

In the closing minutes of the game, coach relied heavily on Benson, Braun and Shaq Carr who got the stops and shots they needed desperately in crunch time.

“We came up with the shots when we need it,” Majerle said. “And the stops when we need it so I thought we executed fine.”

The Havocs made things extremely difficult for the Eagles in the closing minutes of the game and it doesn’t go unnoticed by Braun and the rest of the team.

 

“They mean the world to us,” Braun said. “They do such a great job. They bring it every night especially now during finals and everything they still show up and they bring it.”

The Havocs showed up in a big way, rocking Christmas gear ranging from ugly sweaters to robes and Santa hats. They brought the holiday spirit, too, singing Christmas carols while the Eagles struggled to sink in free throws due to the loud noise.

The Lopes will have to face a new fan base this Wednesday when they hit the road for the first time this season to face Boise State, a team that is 9-1 on the season.

“I’m expecting an extremely tough game,” Majerle said. “Boise is a really really good team. It will be a really good test for us. It will be good for our guys. We need to get on the road a little bit.”