Defense wins championship
Grand Canyon New Mexico State News

GCU Ramps Up the Defense, Coasts to Series Sweep Over NMSU

The last time GCU won a conference game against New Mexico State was nearly four years ago. Oscar Frayer was just a freshman at the time. On Saturday night, inside the GCU Arena, Frayer and the Lopes played some defense to earn a 65-53 win and series sweep over New Mexico State.

With the win, GCU improves to 12-3 overall and 6-0 in WAC play. New Mexico State drops to 3-3 on the season and 0-2 in WAC play. New Mexico State has yet to beat a Division I opponent in the 2020-21 season. 

Saturday night started out similar to Friday night. New Mexico State came out firing and led 9-4 just three minutes into the contest. But a 14-2 run by GCU over the next five minutes gave the Lopes control and they never looked back.

“These back-to-back’s, I don’t know if you ever get used to them,” GCU head coach Bryce Drew said. “It’s our fourth one and it’s still just strange playing the same team back-to-back especially when games are very emotional in conference. We’ve done this three times and every game has been an emotional game. So, really proud of our guys. They (NM State) really came at us in the second half with a couple runs. And, we were able to get defensive stops.”

GCU led Saturday night’s game for just over 34 minutes. In fact, New Mexico State’s last lead came with 15:38 to play in the first half at 9-6. 

Asbjørn Midtgaard had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Alessandro Lever and Jovan Blacksher Jr. were the only other Lopes in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. 

Rebounds were hard to come by for GCU on Friday night. But, the Lopes made the adjustment and held their own on the boards on Saturday. GCU actually out-rebounded the Aggies 34-30 and had 10 offensive boards in the contest. Midtgaard pulled down 10 rebounds while Jovan Blacksher Jr. had seven from his point guard position.

“Disappointed in the results,” New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans said. “It’s not what we set out to do. Certainly dug ourselves a hole on the conference race. And we talked to our team about how big of a game this was. We didn’t hide behind anything. We said ‘hey, this is a huge game for us after losing last night. We’ve got to find a way to eek out a win and split this first WAC series.’ Obviously, that wasn’t the result and it’s just disappointing.”

Offense was hard to come by for the Aggies. The GCU defense held New Mexico State to just 36.5 percent from the field. The Lopes defense was even better in the second half. The Aggies shot 29.6 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from 3-point in the second half. 

Wilfried Likayi had a team-high 13 points on 5-9 shooting for the Aggies. Donnie Tillman and Jabari Rice were the only other Aggies in double figures, each finishing with 11 points. 

Next up for GCU is a trip to Edinburg to take on UTRGV. New Mexico State hosts California Baptist next weekend in El Paso. 

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