The win did some good things for the Lopes. It sends them to their first WAC Tournament riding a three game winning streak, and it avenges a loss at Bakersfield earlier in the season.
Pregame included acknowledging the four seniors Josh Braun, Cheick Sy-Savane, Casey Benson, and Keonta Vernon, who played their final home game.
The Lopes trailed only once in the contest and that was after the opening basket. Down 3-0, GCU went on a 14-0 run and never looked back. Grand Canyon opened up a 21-7 lead with 12:16 left after a Alessandro Lever free throw. CS Bakersfield went on their own run of seven straight to trim the deficit to 21-14 at the eight minute mark. The Roadrunners hung around throughout the first half and trailed by only seven, 35-28 at the break.
CS Bakersfield got within six several times in the first few minutes of the second half, but the Lopes would fight them off ands slowly built the lead up to as many as 19, at 76-57 with just under two minutes remaining.
The seniors went out in style as Braun scored 14, Benson 13 points, and Oscar Frayer rounded out the double digit scorers with 10. Vernon's pregame wedding proposal added to an already energized crowd.
Alessandro Lever led all scorers with 23 points and eight rebounds. It was the seventh time the freshmen dropped in over 20 points this season. The Lopes shot 46% from the floor, an impressive 50% from three point land, and 74% at the charity stripe.
Ricky Holden led CS Bakersfield with 21 points. Justin Davis scored 11 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Grand Canyon (9-5) in the WAC and (20-10) overall finish third and will face UMKC, the sixth seed. The two teams met twice during the regular season with the Lopes winning both games. The scores were 86-69 in Kansas City, and 79-62 in Phoenix.
School W-L W-L
New Mexico State 12-2 25-5
Utah Valley 10-4 21-9
GRAND CANYON 9-5 20-10
Seattle 8-6 19-12
UT Rio Grande Valley 6-8 15-16
UM Kansas City 5-9 10-21
CS Bakersfield 5-9 12-17
Chicago State 1-13 3-28
All games played in Las Vegas at Orleans Arena.
Thursday, March 8 on ESPN3
Times listed are Arizona Times