Lopes take two of three in season-opening NCBBA series
By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
If not for an unlikely 3-pointer at the final buzzer, Grand Canyon University Club Basketball’s Team White would have swept the opening weekend series against rival Arizona State University.
Instead, a corner triple from the Sun Devils dropped as time expired in overtime and the Lopes were forced to settle for a 1-1 record in Saturday’s doubleheader with ASU last weekend at the Canyon Activity Center.
The buzzer-beater 3-pointer was the difference for the Sun Devils in a 97-96 victory over the Lopes in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. GCU rebounded in a big way to take Game 2 by a final of 112-101, leading by 30 at one point.
Saturday’s split – paired with GCU’s 100-94 win over ASU on Thursday night – meant the Lopes went 2-1 in their first National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) series of the 2019-20 season.
“The first game was pretty crazy,” said GCU Head Coach Lamont Lane, reflecting on the Saturday split. “We’re still trying to figure out our lineup and how we want to use our rotations, so we struggled a bit in the first half. Once we figured out our rotations, the guys played really well together and fought back.”
The Lopes (2-1) fell behind by as many as 19 points in the first half before finding a groove in the second. The two teams traded baskets – and the lead – in the final minute with GCU getting a chance to win the game in regulation with a 3-pointer. The attempt clanked off the rim, sending the game into overtime.
A well-executed inbound set under the basket put the Lopes up by two points in the final seconds of overtime, but the Sun Devils (1-2) inbounded to half-court and found an open man in the corner for a game-winning triple.
“We fell asleep on defense there,” Lane said. “We left a guy wide open in the corner, and he nailed it. Credit to ASU for a great battle. I think we’ll learn a lot from how that game ended, and it will help us going forward.”
Game 2 was anything but a battle. GCU led wire-to-wire, leading by as many as 30 before ASU rallied to make it respectable in the second half. Dante’ Nobles led the Lopes in Game 2 with 23 points, while Christian Zitney and Elyon Zevenbergen added 17 points apiece. Dustin Troutt had 15 points and 11 assists, while Niklas Brown pitched in 12 points.
Game 1’s effort featured 24 points from Nobles, who also had five assists. Zevenbergen tossed in 14 points and nine rebounds, while Chris Issakhanian and Zitney pitched in 13 points apiece. Troutt had 12 points and 11 assists. Brown added 10 points and seven assists.
Lane credited Brown for his play on both ends of the floor.
“Nik (Brown) did a great job in both games,” Lane said. “He was a game-changer in a lot of ways. He had some timely buckets, rebounds and assists, but more than anything, he kept us calm, especially in the first game.”
GCU Team White returns to NCBBA Southern-Pacific East action on January 23 with a game at ASU Downtown.
Arizona Christian University 79, GCU Purple 77
GCU Purple dropped to 0-2 in Arizona Men’s Basketball League (AMBL) play with a 79-77 loss to Arizona Christian University on Friday at the Canyon Activity Center.
Phoenix Prep 93, GCU Black 46
GCU Black also fell to 0-2 in AMBL action with a 93-46 loss to Phoenix Prep on Friday at the Canyon Activity Center.