29 Th11 2021 | 08:19
If Grand Canyon keeps coming out with the defense that it has played to start the first two games, GCU is going to be playing from a position of strength in the lead often this season.
The Lopes kept Grambling to 18 first-half points in a season-opening Tuesday win and followed that up Friday night, when they limited North Florida to 24 first-half points in a 65-51 victory at GCU Arena.
GCU locked down on the Ospreys, forcing 10 consecutive misses before they made a half-closing 3-pointer to cut the Lopes halftime lead to 36-24. For the second consecutive game, GCU junior Jovan Blacksher Jr. was the team’s leading first-half scorer, following up a 16-point first half Tuesday by scoring a team-best nine points in Friday’s first half without committing a turnover.
GCU only led 22-16 as North Florida reached the double bonus with seven minutes to go, but the Lopes defense dug in. A North Florida air ball and blocked shot by junior power forward Gabe McGlothan started a dominant GCU defensive stretch, which allowed the Lopes to take a 29-16 lead when a Blacksher 3 followed Sean Miller-Moore’s alleyoop dunk from sophomore guard Chance McMillian.
The Lopes could not pull away in the second half, even after Miller-Moore opened the second half with drives and Blacksher hit another 3. North Florida cut the lead to single digits on multiple occasions and it down to 55-45 when Blacksher fouled out on a North Florida 3-point shot with 4:43 to go. That is when the experience and playmaking of fifth-year guard Holland Woods II is huge for the Lopes, who went on a 7-0 run to put the win away.
North Florida shot 34.8% from the field while the Lopes shot 48% but committed 16 turnovers. GCU’s rebounding helps offset the possessions that it gives away by providing second and third chances at times with 11 offensive rebounds, seven of which came from junior power forward Yvan Ouedraogo and McGlothan. Ouedraogo came off the bench for an 11-point, 10-rebound effort as a plus-21 in his 31 minutes. McGlothan, who started on Friday, racked up eight points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes.