Free throws are an interesting part of a basketball game. They have significant impact, especially late in a ball game.
On Thursday night, at GCU Arena, in the WAC opener for GCU and California Baptist, a pair of second half free throws completely changed the game. And the free throws didn’t come in a late-game situation. But, when Rayshon Harrison knocked down a pair of free throws with 14:18 to play, CBU never really had a chance.
Those two free throws were the first points of the game for Harrison. But, they were the first two points of a 16-point second half outburst by Harrison.
Harrison scored his game-high 16 points in the second half to lead GCU to a 73-59 win over CBU on Thursday night in the WAC opener for both teams.
“Games after Christmas are always hard,” GCU head coach Bryce Drew said. “You never know if you’re gonna be sharp or not be sharp just with the layoff. I thought our guys were pretty sharp. Especially coming back from Christmas break.”
A pair of free throws. Simple as that.
With CBU leading 37-36, Harrison hit a pair of free throws, his first points of the game with 14:18 to play.
After CBU took the lead back a minute later on Hunter Goodrick’s layup, Harrison’s shot returned.
Harrison knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give GCU the lead for good with 12:12 to play.
In fact, Harrison, along with Gabe McGlothan scored nine of the Lopes final 11 points in the win. Harrison’s and-1 conversion with 59 seconds was the icing on the cake of an impressive second-half performance. And Jovan Blacksher Jr. capped the win with a layup with 48 seconds to play.
GCU ended the ball game on an 11-0 run to walk away with the 14-point win over the Lancers.
“Our ball movement was really good,” Drew said. “We have some guards that can get in the lane off the bounce. The more we can move it, hopefully, it makes the other team have to defend us. First half, we took some quick ones. Second half, a little bit better, a little more patient on offense.”
Along with Harrison’s performance, three other Lopes were in double figures. Jovan Blacksher Jr had 13 points while Josh Baker and Noah Baumann each had 10 points. GCU was 10-13 from the free throw line in the second half. And Harrison knocked down four of those free throws.
Free throws can get a player going when they are struggling offensively. And that’s what happened on Thursday night.
GCU freshman Isaiah Carr made his first start of the season. The 7-foot freshman had just three points but provided a presence in the paint for Bryce Drew and the Lopes.
Joe Quintana had 14 points to lead the Lancers. Taran Armstrong had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Lancers, as well.
The Lopes improve to 10-4 overall and 1-0 in WAC. GCU has the weekend off before heading to Texas to face Sam Houston on Thursday and Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.
CBU falls to 8-6 overall and 0-1 in WAC. The Lancers have to make the quick trip to the Pacific Northwest to take on Seattle U on New Year’s Eve.