In order to win basketball games, teams have to score. At least that is a huge part of the game.
Well, at the Lawlor Events Center, in one of its few true road games, GCU could not score. At least not in the second half.
From about the 7:44 mark of the second half, to be exact. The Lopes scored just two points from that point in the second half, and the Wolfpack attacked.
Led by Kenan Blackshear’s game-high 20 points, Nevada knocked off GCU, 59-46 in a Saturday matinee.
There is a reason GCU guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. is the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. On the road at the Lawlor Events Center, Blacksher had a team-high 16 points for the Lopes.
But, here is the problem…no other Lope starter was in double figures. Simply put, GCU could not score points. It was a crazy twist of fate from the season opener. GCU struggled to score in the first half against Montana State. But then the bucket opened in the second half comeback win.
On Saturday, it was the opposite. GCU played well enough to keep pace in the first half. But then, the lid got tight and GCU could not score the basketball, especially down the stretch.
Rayshon Harrison was 0-5 from 3-point land. Noah Baumann was 0-4 from 3-point land. In fact, Blacksher Jr. had more points himself (16), than the other four starters combined (13). That’s NOT good.
As a team, GCU shot 29.1 percent for the game. In the second half, GCU was 8-29 from the field and 2-11 from distance.
Even in the first half, the shooting wasn’t there. GCU shot nearly 31 percent from the field in the first half and hit a trio of 3-pointers. Fortunately, Nevada was bad offensively in the first half. The Wolfpack shot just 32 percent and was 2-8 from 3-point land. Thus the reason for a 24-24 tie at the break.
And in the second half, Jovan Blacksher hit a pair of jumpers to give GCU the lead early. And Yvan Ouedraogo’s dunk gave GCU a 30-24 lead.
Following another Jovan Blacksher Jr. 3-pointer to make it 33-26, and a Blacksher and-1 that made it 36-31 with 13:45 to play, Nevada erupted while GCU went ice cold. The Wolfpack used a 10-0 run to take control and never looked back.
Over the final 7:21 in the second half, GCU scored just five points.
Chance McMillian’s 3-pointer and a subsequent pair of free throws from McMillian were the final points for GCU.
GCU returns home to host Grambling State next Friday before heading to Kansas City for the Hall of Fame Classic. The Lopes are 2-1 on the young season. And have to figure out who can step into that scoring role to give Jovan Blacksher some help.
— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) November 12, 2022
Utah Valley Holds On to Beat Northern Arizona
A 12-point halftime lead, gone, just like that. At least that is how quickly it seemed Utah Valley’s 43-31 halftime lead over Northern Arizona evaporated into thin air. Nik Mains and Liam Lloyd hit back-to-back buckets to start the second half and force a quick timeout from Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen.
Even after Utah Valley pushed the lead back to 15, back came the Lumberjacks on back-to-back 3-pointers from Lloyd and Jalen Cone.
Oakland Fort’s 3-pointer with 10:42 to play cut it to a 1-point deficit. And it seemed like NAU was going to pull the upset in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the UCCU Center.
Enter Jaden McClanahan. The 5-10 junior guard came in and gave Madsen and the Wolverines some big time minutes. McClanahan hit a pair of 3-pointers, had a couple of beautiful assists and basically kept Utah Valley from getting upset.
McClanahan finished with seven points, three assists and two rebounds in 14 minutes. Trey Woodbury had a game-high 21 points and six assists. And Aziz Bandaogo had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards. Le’Tre Darthard was also in double figures for the Wolverines with 13 points.
— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) November 12, 2022
Utah Valley hit 10 3-pointers and Northern Arizona hit 11 in the contest..
Former GCU guard Liam Lloyd and big man Jack Wistcrill each had a team-high 14 points for the Lumberjacks while Oakland Fort finished with 12 points.
One thing Utah Valley did really well was shut down NAU’s leading scorer Jalen Cone. Coming into Saturday’s contest, Cone was averaging 18.5 points. Tahj Small and Le’Tre Darthard combined to hold Cone to just eight points on a 2-11 shooting night.
Utah Valley is off until Tuesday when the Wolverines will travel to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest in the campus game as part of the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic.