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Grand Canyon Bounces Back with Strong Defensive Play in a 68-56 Win Over UC Riverside

After a tough loss last week to the University of San Diego, the Grand Canyon Antelopes bounced back against the UC Riverside Highlanders to win it 68-56.

The Lopes came out with the defensive intensity early and finished the game forcing 14 turnovers in the first half and 24 turnovers total. This was an area of focus in practice all week.

“Last week we didn’t do a very good job defensively which we had done in the first four games,” Casey Benson said. “So we wanted to get out and pressure, make it tough on them.”

With the good, comes the bad. GCU struggled with its three-point shooting, opening the game going 2-of-12 from the field. They finished 4-of-36 from beyond the arc.

They had several open looks but shots just weren’t falling. There came a point in the game when head coach Dan Majerle had to tell his team to stop taking threes.

“You want guys to have confidence,” Dan Majerle said. “But there comes a time where if you’re 4-for-30 or whatever you are, you got to stop shooting threes.”

On the bright side, the Antelopes had 20 assists and 20-second chance points while the Highlanders only had 12 and 7 (respectively) and that had a lot to do with offensive rebounding. GCU had 16 of those but Majerle thought there should’ve been more.

“We did crash the boards but I mean when you go 4-for-36 you better crash the boards,” Majerle said. “We had 16 offensive rebounds, probably should’ve had 26 with the shots we missed.”

Moving forward, Majerle wants to continue improving the Lopes’ strengths to over compensate for areas that are lacking.

“We’re going to have to hang our hat on defense and rebounding and causing turnovers and get out and running and get easy layups because right now we can’t shoot the ball,” Majerle said.

From a different perspective, Casey Benson isn’t worried about the three-point shots so fast.

“I think if you can get the shots you want, you know, more times than not they’ll fall,” Benson said. “Tonight it just didn’t really fall.”

Benson had 12 points to go along with Roberts Blumbergs 14 points and 7 rebounds. Oscar Frayer also added 11 points, a three pointer and a couple of dunks.

Grand Canyon faces St. John’s on Tuesday and the game will be played at the BBVA Compass Valley of the Sun Shootout at Talking Stick Resort Arena. GCU fans are encouraged to come out to Majerle’s Downtown at 6 PM for the pre-game pep rally. The game will be on ESPNU starting at 9:30 Arizona time. GCU radio partner The Fanatic 1580 AM/99/3 FM/95.9 FM will air the game locally.