The Grand Canyon University men’s basketball team rebounded from last night’s loss, tonight defeating Cal State San Bernardino, 66-49, at Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix.
The Antelopes improve to 6-2 with the win. CSUSB falls to 4-2.
One night after seeing Saint Martin’s shoot 59 percent to hand the ‘Lopes their first home loss of the season, GCU tonight limited the Coyotes to 29 percent shooting from the field, including 14 percent (4-for-28) in the first half.
“Last night was a bad loss,” said Nick Witherill. “We knew we had to come out and set the defensive tone early in the game. We looked at the film this morning and saw how bad we played last night. I think tonight showed our true determination and effort on defense.”
Witherill didn’t rest with just his defense this evening, leading GCU with a season-high 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the floor. He was 4-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc.
“The seniors tonight really stepped up,” added Witherill. “The freshmen haven’t experienced many losses like that and it was important for us to show them how to come back hard and focus on the task at hand.”
Grand Canyon opened a 34-11 lead at the half; due in large part to a 13-0 run after the Coyotes scored the opening basket. The Antelopes defensive effort tonight held San Bernardino to a six-plus and four-plus minute scoring draught in the opening 20 minutes.
“I thought we showed some real maturity tonight,” said head coach Russ Pennell. “We saw it this morning during the shoot round. The guys were quiet as they went about their work and I was watching them from the side. I called them all together and asked them where we were at for tonight. They told me they we are focused and ready to go and certainly showed it.”
GCU forced 17 turnovers this evening and had seven steals. Witherill had four steals, tying his career high. He also had four steals on Nov. 26 vs. Ft. Lewis.
“Nick brings great intensity to the game,” added Pennell. “We have this love-hate thing going on, but he is like my own kid and he knows it. His fire makes him so good. When he’s going and has the fire brewing, he sets the tone for the rest of the team. I’m really happy about his effort and his leadership. He proved tonight how bad he really wanted to win this game tonight.”
Kyle Speed added 12 points, his sixth-straight game with 12 or more points. Justin Wesolowski chipped in eight points and team-high eight rebounds.
Grand Canyon will now be off until Dec. 30, when they will host Arizona Christian at 6 p.m. at GCU Arena.