During a college basketball slate that featured games between FAU-Illinois and UNC-UConn at Madison Square Garden, GCU’s late night 79-73 win against San Diego State was the highlight of the day. The Lopes achieved their first win against a top 25 program, and they did in front of one of the best crowds in the nation. GCU’s festive environment was showcased to a national audience on ESPNU.
Ray Harrison lead the Lopes with 23 points, Tyon Grant-Foster added 18, and Colin Moore made a couple key threes late for the Lopes. It is extremely rare for high profile teams to play at GCU arena. The Aztecs traveled to Phoenix as part of a home-and-home series agreed upon during the 2020-2021 season. It was second time the Aztecs made the trip to GCU Arena.
GCU featured a sell-out crowd on Tuesday night. Students camped out since Saturday night to get their seats for this highly anticipated matchup, and they played a big part in the win.
The three-night campout was worth it. The atmosphere was electric before the tip. The ESPN broadcast caught Brian Dutcher smiling has the Havocs rocked the stands, bouncing up and downs with their fingers pointing towards the court seconds before tip-off.
The energy from the crowd swayed the momentum. The Lopes had major runs at the end of each halves. San Diego State’s final point of the first half came at the 2:54 mark as the Lopes scored the final nine points of the half.
Late in the second half, GCU used an 11-2 spurt to build a 13-point lead. Moments later, the court storming commenced.
The Havocs storm. pic.twitter.com/GIYGKADVhD— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) December 6, 2023
The Biggest Party in College Basketball. pic.twitter.com/c2M6lax9JA— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) December 6, 2023
What this means for Grand Canyon:
The Lopes achieved a major milestone for their program. The Lopes have been to two NCAA tournaments, but you can make an argument that Tuesday’s win against SDSU was the best win in the school’s D-I history.
Since moving to Division I, the school has made it a goal to turn GCU into one of nation’s best mid-major programs. You have to beat top teams to get there.
Taking down a Final Four team from last season is a good start. The Lopes showed they can score on one of the nation’s elite defenses. They out rebounded SDSU 40-32. Four different scorers had 15 or more points.
Grand Canyon now heads to Liberty for a showdown with the Flames. GCU is flying students to the game, which is crazy in its own right.
What this means for SDSU:
The Aztecs have shown some vulnerabilities in their armor. The Aztecs’ two losses have come on the road in tough environments. However, they needed a buzzer beat to beat UC San Diego, and their wins against Washington and California came in overtime.
Playing a tough non-conference schedule will benefit SDSU going forward. The Aztecs still have a road trip to play Gonzaga in Spokane. They have high quality opponents in the Mountain West per usual.
The Aztecs roster is different from last year. Jaedon LeDee has emerged as an elite power forward. The Aztecs have the guard play to make a deep run in March. They still have room to grow on the defensive end. This game against GCU is going to help the Aztecs going forward.