Lopes dispatch Cal Poly, 55-48; will meet Arizona State in Sunday’s title game
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
In a game that whose outcome wouldn’t affect their place in the championship round, the top-seeded Grand Canyon University Club Basketball Purple team held off the Mustangs of California Polytechnic State University, 55-48, Saturday night in the opening day of the 2018 National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) Southern Pacific (SoPac) Regional Championships. By virtue of a revamped tournament format after UCLA unexpectedly pulled out of the tournament late Thursday, the win was merely a tuneup for the 11th-ranked Lopes, who had already clinched a berth in Sunday’s championship game. The win sets up an all-Arizona championship matchup between GCU and 3rd-seeded Arizona State University, who advanced earlier Saturday afternoon with their own victory over Cal Poly at Antelope Gym on the GCU campus.
While the actual outcome of GCU’s game Saturday was virtually meaningless, and in many ways was just a game to ensure that all three teams involved would play two games in the tournament, the Lopes readily welcomed the game, since it was their first action in just under six weeks. The Lopes finished their regular season well before the other tournament participants, but got the rust out quickly in a game that used a 20-minute running clock for each half. The Lopes never trailed against the Mustangs, jumping on the fatigued CPU team to the tune of a 14-2 edge. The Mustangs charged back to cut the deficit to just two points at the halfway point of the first half, but never caught the Lopes, who took a 36-26 into the halftime locker room. The Lopes opened the second half with a 6-0 run to take their largest lead of the game, and coasted from there. The Lopes’ starting backcourt of Dennis Shouse and Zac Ramirez paced a balanced effort with 13 points apiece, and all eight GCU players that played scored. Alec Raven had 10 points to lead the Mustangs, who finish their season with a 12-2 record and a SoPac North Conference title.
NCBBA SoPac Regional Semifinal: Arizona State 88, Cal Poly 84
The Lopes advanced to Sunday’s championship game, and will face 3rd-seeded Arizona State, who overcame a horrendous start in their NCBBA SoPac Semifinal matchup against Cal Poly to outlast the Mustangs, 88-84. The game featured 24 made three-pointers, five ties and 11 lead changes. The Mustangs shot out of the gates quickly, taking a 25-9 lead eight minutes into the game. ASU swung the momentum by employing a full-court press defense, which led to several transition buckets that brought them to within four points at the half, 38-34, and a close game the rest of the way. The hot shooting of ASU’s Jake Pandrok allowed the Sun Devils to use a 20-7 run late in the game to take command. Pandrok had 18 of his team-high 30 points in the 2nd half, while Raven led all scorers with 41 points for Cal Poly.
The Lopes and Sun Devils now take identical 11-2 records into Sunday’s championship matchup, and it will be the fourth game this season between the two teams. The teams last saw each other on January 20th at GCU’s Lopes Performance Center, where after splitting the first two games of their three-game series, the Lopes eked out an 84-83 win, a victory that would eventually help give GCU its first-ever SoPac East Conference title. The NCBBA SoPac Regional Championship Game tips off at 10 am Sunday at Antelope Gym, and admission is FREE. The winner earns a berth in the NCBBA National Tournament beginning April 6 in South Bend, Indiana.
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