By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
The NBA is often described as a “make or miss” league.
That statement holds true at all levels of basketball, and never was that more evident than in Grand Canyon University Purple’s 62-50 loss to Phoenix Prep in the home opener of the Arizona Men’s Basketball League Tuesday night at the Canyon Activity Center.
The Lopes (0-1) took a 32-25 lead into the halftime break before the Fire enforced their will inside to pull away for good. Phoenix Prep (13-4) opened the second half on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 37-37. A hook shot in the paint from 6-foot-6 forward Jake TenBerg put Phoenix Prep up 39-37, and the Fire never looked back.
“Our shots were falling in the first half and we showed good effort,” said GCU Purple Head Coach Zane Pantil. “In the second half, you saw it kind of get away from us. Our shots just weren’t dropping. Overall, I thought we played pretty well but just didn’t make enough shots.”
Playing in its season opener, GCU jumped out to a 5-2 advantage behind a 3-pointer from Dylan Irwin and a jumper from Jackson Krogman. A nifty drive and layin from Quentin Hank gave the Lopes their largest lead of the game at 20-13.
The Fire pulled to 25-23 with 6 minutes left in the first half before the Lopes closed with a 10-2 run fueled by a 3-pointer from Irwin and jumpers from Logan Phillips to take a seven-point lead into the break.
Phoenix Prep’s unique length gave GCU trouble on both ends of the floor in the second half. The Fire began playing inside out through 6-foot-10 Matur Dahl and 6-foot-6 Roy Eze, who finished with 15 points, including 14 in the second half.
“We tried to run two bigs to counter their size, but it didn’t work the way I was hoping,” Pantil said. “We didn’t defend the post very well against their big guys in the second half, and I think that’s what allowed them to pull away late.”
After the Fire took their first lead of the game at 39-37, the closest the Lopes came to regaining it was following an Irwin 3-pointer that closed the deficit to a point at 41-40. A 10-2 Phoenix Prep run gave the Fire a 51-42 advantage before Eze threw down a dunk to make it 54-46 with four minutes remaining.
Eze went on to score seven of the Fire’s last eight points to seal the win.
“We had them where we wanted them,” Pantil said. “They (Phoenix Prep) started to make their run around the 10-minute mark in the second half. We started forcing shots instead of letting the game come to us. Ball movement was our biggest issue in the second half.”
Irwin and Hank scored eight points apiece to pace GCU Purple, which will play Arizona Christian UNiversity on Friday at 6:30 pm at the Canyon Activity Center.
Bella Vista Prep 114, GCU Black 68
Mason Peterson led all scorers with a whopping 34 points, but it wasn’t enough as GCU Black fell to Bella Vista Prep 114-68 Tuesday night in the team’s AMBL opener at the Canyon Activity Center.
Peterson made nine 3-pointers en route to a huge night. Fabrice Tuyizere added 10 points, while Kale Landguth chipped in eight points. Cain Hayhurst tossed in six points for the Lopes (0-1).
GCU Black will take on Phoenix Prep Friday at 6:30 pm at the Canyon Activity Center.