Grand Canyon completes season sweep
The Mountain Lions started out playing a basketball game Wednesday night but ended up letting themselves get into a track meet.
Noe Alonzo scored 28 points as the Grand Canyon â€˜Lopes defeated the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions 100-68 Wednesday night at the Lions' Den.
Grand Canyon (5-1) came into the game with a distinct advantage in speed and athleticism. UCCS had the edge in size and strength. Mountain Lions coach Lance Hammond wanted a power game, he got the Flying Wallendas.
"We played right into their hands," said UCCS guard P.J. Forrest, who was tied for second on the team with 13 points. "We didnâ€TMt get it in to Bly (McGuire) enough."
That's what UCCS wanted to do. McGuire, at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, provided a mismatch for the smaller-Lopes.
"Our emphasis coming into the game was to work the ball around and get it down to Bly," said Forrest. "We felt that there was no one they could guard Bly with. If they (double-teamed), we felt we had the shooters on the perimeter where we could kick it out and make our shots. It didn't happen that way."
Instead, the Mountain Lions allowed themselves to get caught up with the running game, particularly in the second half. The harsh math that resulted from the departure from the game plan was that they went 0-for-15 on 3-pointers in the second half. When they were patient enough to work the ball inside they were rewarded, going 12-for-16 on two-point shots during the same span.
Grand Canyon, meanwhile, wore the fast pace like a favorite shirt. The â€˜Lopes made 20 of their 30 second-half shots, many of which were transition layups. When they did kick the ball outside, UCCS failed to react. Grand Canyon made 5-of-9 3-pointers in the second half and 13-of-24 for the game.
"We took some early shots that led to transition baskets for them," said Forrest. "That's what they like to do - get us shooting quick shots and then take off and run."
Patrick Hannaway led the Mountain Lions (0-3) with 19 points and 11 rebounds. McGuire added 13 points and eight rebounds.
The 'Lopes made their first seven 3-pointers, five by Alonzo, to take an early lead. By halftime, they led 46-33.
After a pair of Matt Cordova free throws cut the lead to 11, Grand Canyon scored nine straight points to increase its lead to 20. Three field goals by McGuire and a layup by Hannaway helped UCCS cut the lead to 59-45, but the â€˜Lopes answered by making five of their next six shots during a 13-0 run that put the game away.
Alonzo went 11-of-14 from the field and 6-of-8 from 3-point range as Grand Canyon completed its sweep of the home-and-home series with UCCS. Jason Stromvall added 14 points while Ryan Nelson had 12.
"(Alonzo) got a lot of open looks," said Hannaway. "When (a shooter) hits a couple of open 3s, he's going to be feeling it all night."
The Mountain Lions will play at Wyoming Monday, meaning that they will have played two Division I schools and twice against a premier Division II program before opening their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference schedule against Chadron State on Dec. 8. The difficult opening schedule is a tough reality of being an under-funded program. Scheduling decisions must be made with guarantees in mind in order to pay for the rest of the season.
"These are really good teams," said Hannaway. "We can't hang our heads and get down about these losses because we do have games coming up that are winnable. We just have to stick together.â€"
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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