By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
There’s always an edge when a team just outside the top 10 ranking squares off against an opponent who is just inside of it. Combine that with the fact that the two schools already consider themselves a rival and you’ll get the story line that surrounded last weekend’s best-of-3 win by No. 11 Grand Canyon University Men’s Club Basketball team over No. 9 Arizona State University.
In Game 1 between the two teams Friday night at the Lopes Performance Center, the Lopes hit the floor running, clearly wanting to send a message. The fast pace and all-around team effort led to GCU winning the rebounding battle as well as the statistic of “points in the paint.” The Sun Devils kept it close down the stretch before losing to GCU, 92-85. Lopes’ senior guard Zach Ramirez led both teams with 32 points.
What Type of Message did Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Basham Send to the Team Before Game 3?
“It was simple: we have to show up and play,” said Basham. “We knew we could beat them, but every guy was going to need to step up.”
The tie breaker was closer than both the previous games, with each team going on their respective runs. ASU clearly showed signs of fatigue, having put so much effort in getting to this point while GCU returned to their Friday night selves, pulling out a nail-biting 84-83 win.
Notable performances came from Lopes’ senior forwards Kuoc Mathiang and Guy Woods. Mathiang was a true rim protector for the team, totaling 20 blocks over the three games. As for Woods, every big play seemed to have his involvement in some way and the leadership he displayed down the stretch of the final game cannot be overlooked.
While the Lopes Purple team now has a couple of weeks off before their next game, the GCU White team gets back in action February 25 against the West Coast Wings. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm at the LPC and admission is FREE.