Lopes Edge San Francisco, 76-72
PHOENIX — In a contest that was separated by two possessions or less for more than 38 minutes and all of the second half, the Grand Canyon Lopes opened Cactus Division play at the inaugural Arizona Tip-Off with a thrilling 76-72 victory over the San Francisco Dons Friday night at Diamond Desert Arena.
A close game throughout, GCU (3-0) led for only 1:54 in the second half, but pulled away when it mattered most. The Lopes took its first lead of the stanza at 7:54 after not holding an edge since 1:01 left in the first half.
Leading 72-70 in the final minute, Tyon Grant-Foster dropped in a layup that gave GCU a four point lead, 74-70. Ryan Harrison dropped in two clutch free throws out of a timeout with :14 seconds to play for the Lopes.
San Francisco (2-2) missed two three pointers inside the final 10 seconds, sealing the victory for GCU. USF missed nine of its final 10 shots from the floor over the final 5:34.
Grant-Foster paced all scorers with 28 points and was flanked by Harrison’s 24 points. Grant-Foster also added seven rebounds.
Collin Moore (14) also put up double-figures for the Lopes. GCU won fast break points and the squads split points off turnovers.
Marcus WIlliams tallied 20 points of his own for the Dons and was joined in double digits by Jonathan Mogbo (17) and Mike Sharavjamts (16). The Dons won points in the paint, second chance points and bench points.
Neither side shot above 40% from the floor, including a combined 13-47 (27.6%) from three-point range. In a contest that was so consistently close, there were only four lead changes and four ties.
The opening half started as a defensive battle, with teams combining to shoot 9-29 (31%) from the field with seven total turnovers at the under-12 media timeout.
Leading by one, GCU rattled off a 6-0 spurt over 1:59, earning its largest lead of the game at 20-13 with 8:29 left in the first half. The Lopes received consecutive baskets from Grant-Foster and forced a Dons timeout.
The run concluded at 8-0 over 3:41, punctuated by a layup from Brennan, GCU’s third straight make at 7:55 in the first half. The 22-13 edge was the largest for either side in the first half.
San Francisco was unflappable, ripping an 8-0 run in 1:20 from 4:47-3:27. The rally included two baskets by Newbery as well as scores from Williams and Mogbo, giving USF a one point edge, 28-27. GCU knotted it up just before the break, but Sharavjamts nailed a triple with :2 on the clock, earning USF a 36-33 halftime edge.
Grand Canyon will play for the Cactus Division Championship Saturday at 5 p.m., while San Francisco plays at 2:30 p.m. in the Third Place Game. Both opponents are contingent on the results of DePaul’s matchup with South Carolina.