Grand Canyon Rebounds Back to Beat UT Rio Grande Valley

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Grand Canyon overcame its scoring and rebounding struggles to beat UT Rio Grande Valley 84-71 at home on Saturday night.

It was a collective effort by everyone but freshman power forward Roberts Blumbergs’ performance is what really stood out the most. He went from playing just four minutes in Thursday’s loss to New Mexico State to 18 minutes, scoring a season-high 25 points and grabbing a season-high tying eight rebounds.

I’ve been kind of waiting for a night like that,” GCU Head Coach Dan Majerle said after the game. “So good for him. He has been working hard the last couple of weeks so it’s good to see it pay off.”

Blumbergs’ aggression to the basket is something he has been working hard on at practice and earned him a trip to the free throw line 13 times. He made 11 of them.

“I’m trying to work on my physicality,” Roberts said. “Get more aggressive, be more aggressive, attack the basket and basically just complete the game plan.”

The Lopes defensive effort held the Vaqueros to just 33 percent shooting. They also outrebounded them 45-to-31, a big turnaround from last game after GCU was outrebounded 50-25 against NMSU.

“I think everybody wants to play,” Majerle said. “So they understood that if they weren’t boxing out or crashing they were going to come out so the focus was there, the concentration was there for them to go to the boards.”

Ball movement proved to be another factor in the win as the Lopes played as a cohesive unit tallying 16 assists.

Keonta Vernon put up another double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds. He really got things going for the Lopes in the first half as they got off to an 11-4 start and went into halftime with a 10-point lead.

Coming out of the half, the Lopes took control, going on a 13-0 run with the help of a hot hand from Josh Braun. He scored 20 points, going 5-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from the three-point line. GCU led by as much as 23 points at one point until UTRGV slowly started chipping away at the lead.

Majerle talked about limiting Braun’s minutes helped his performance tonight with more rest time.

“It’s good that he got 20 points,” Majerle said. “I think limiting his minutes, getting more out of the minutes there instead of playing 35, 36 minutes helps him a little bit.”

Casey Benson also added 10 points to the mix, putting four Lopes players in double figures.

Although the team played well, Majerle still has his concerns and isn’t impressed just yet.

“These guys got to show up on the road, tough games,” Majerle said. “Tough games when it’s physical.”

The Lopes (12-6, 2-1) will have that opportunity on Thursday as they head to the Midwest to take on Chicago State (2-18, 0-3).