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Grand Canyon secures its first NCAA Tournament win in history

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Grand Canyon Antelopes are headed to the Round of 32 for the first time in history after defeating Saint Mary’s 75-66 in Friday’s first-round matchup.

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History made

Grand Canyon and its fans have long awaited this moment and can now cherish it.

The reigning WAC Champions continue their incredible season. Despite being underdogs, the No. 12 seeded Lopes (30-4) were confident and delivered on the big stage.

GCU students and fans traveled in bunches to Spokane, Washington, bringing much-needed energy for the Lopes.

Their support has been there all year and that did not change despite playing out of state.

Lopes fans show out in Round of 64 matchup with Saint Mary’s

The difference

The clear difference in Friday night’s matchup was GCU’s physicality and relentlessness. The Lopes hustled like none other and did not give up many easy looks.

Head coach Bryce Drew knew what it would take for his team to come out on top before the game.

“We’re gonna have to be really physical,”Β Drew said while speaking to the media on Tuesday. “Not just on one hit but on multiple hits and do the best that we can on the glass.”

Grand Canyon HC Bryce Drew strongly believes in team vs. Saint Mary’s

Senior forward Gabe McGlothan played a significant role in this.

McGlothan finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. The senior was a nightmare for Saint Mary’s on both sides of the ball.

Junior Ray Harrison added 17 points and six assists in the win.

Senior guard and WAC Player of the Year Tyon Grant-Foster continued what he’s been doing all season. The 24-year-old finished with a team-high 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Saint Mary’s entered this game with the largest rebounding margin in College basketball. They have been a force to be reckoned with on the glass and have benefited greatly from second-chance points.

Despite this, GCU stayed in the rebounding battle largely because of McGlothan, trailing the Gaels by just six total boards.

As they’ve done better than anyone this season, the Lopes got to the free-throw line at will. They finished 28-36 from the charity stripe.

Up next

The team will now play in its first Round of 32 NCAA tournament game in history.Β They are set to face No. 5 Alabama on Sunday, March 24 at 4:10 p.m. MST.

Alabama (22-11) stands as the No. 1 offense in the nation and is coming off a 109-96 victory against No. 13 Charleston.

This will be Grand Canyon’s toughest challenge yet but one they are well prepared for.

The Crimson Tide are known for their potent high-powered offense, while GCU has hung its hat on defense and getting to the line, setting up a clash that will be as entertaining as ever.

 

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Saleh Awwad is a writer/reporter covering the Arizona State Sun Devils, Phoenix High School Sports, and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @SalehAwwad_

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