‘Lopes snap road skid with win over HPU

slider gcu_lopesThe Grand Canyon University men’s basketball snapped a 10-game road losing streak tonight, defeating Hawai’i Pacific 73-56 at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

The win improves the Antelopes’ overall record to 11-7, 5-5 in the Pacific West Conference. HPU fell to 7-11, 2-8 in the league.

GCU had dropped all six games they had played on the road this season and the last four of the 2010-11 campaign.

“Honestly, I haven’t thought a lot about the streak,” said head coach Russ Pennell. “I realize it was there, but there wasn’t anything mystical or magical about it. Simply put, we haven’t played well enough to win on the road. The thing I saw happening way back to the first half in the Dixie game, was we were learning how to play on the road. We were a little better at BYU and a whole lot better at Chaminade.  Tonight we were able to extend our runs and overcome some tough calls. But to win on the road is one of the best feelings you have in the game.”

Grand Canyon used a 7-0 in the final 1:17 of the first half to take a 29-28 lead into intermission.

Jerome Garrison came out aggressive in the second half scoring 12 of his game-high 19 points. Garrison, the PacWest leader in the free-throw percentage, was 9-for-10 from the line tonight.

“I challenged Jerome in the shoot around today to be more aggressive,” said Pennell. “I felt tonight he put tremendous pressure on the defense and opened up things for our outsider shooters to knock down some shots. He really is going to be a big-time player for us.”

After shooting a season-low 35 percent in their last game against Chaminade, the Antelopes tonight rebounded to shoot a season-high 54 percent.

Steve Morin sank four 3-pointers tonight for 12 points, a game after scoring a career-best 16 on five treys. Morin hit a pair of three’s less than a minute apart that extended GCU to a 43-33 lead just under six minutes into the second half. The ‘Lopes, who led by as many as 17 in the second half, never saw their lead get below seven after Morin’s three’s.

Braylon Pickrel scored 12 points tonight, while teammate Kyle Speed had 11 points and five assists on zero turnovers.

“We didn’t get down on ourselves after the Chaminade game,” said Garrison. “We felt like we played a pretty good game the other night and knew that tonight we just had to give a little more and it would get us the win.”

“I’m happy for the guys,” added Pennell. “I’m proud that were able to get back up after two heartbreaking losses and do what they did tonight.”

Grand Canyon will wrap up their four-game Hawaiian road trip with a game on the Big Island against Hawai’i Hilo on Feb. 4.

“They gave us everything we wanted at home and did so without their leading scorer,” said Pennell. “We will need the same resolve we showed tonight to get a win in Hilo.”

The ‘Lopes will fly back to the Valley on Feb. 5 and will next be in action on Feb. 11 when they travel to the newest PacWest member, California Baptist. Following the game with CBU, the Antelopes will close out the season with five of their final six games coming at Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix. GCU holds a 10-1 record at home this season.