Since Josh Lowery arrived on the campus of Grand Canyon University, he’s been nothing but gold for the Lopes.
He showed and proved himself against Azusa Pacific on Monday afternoon.
With seconds remaining in the game, and the Lopes down 50-48, Lowery took a Killian Larson screen, drove the baseline and calmly lifted a shot over Cougars guard Troy Leaf, which went in for the winning score.
Lopes slip by the Cougars 50-49.
Grand Canyon (16-4, 7-2) improved to 12-0 at home with the victory, while Azusa Pacific dropped to 6-8, 3-3 in Pac West after the loss.
“I thought we won that game on heart and toughness,” head coach Russ Pennell said. “When you can not have your best game and still win, that’s a good night.”
Both teams were dreadful from the field. The Cougars shot 37.5-percent to the Lopes’ 34-percent.
It wasn’t much prettier from beyond the arc either. The teams combined to go 9-of-45 from three-point range.
“It was a real defensive battle I guess, or offensive struggle or whatever you want to call it,” Lowery said. “We really couldn’t knock down that many shots, but we made a couple when it counted and we locked down on defense when we needed to.”
The shooting wasn’t there, but the physical play sure was.
Both teams banged each other all night long, but it was a good, clean type of physical, with no altercations of any type.
None of the Lopes were in any kind of foul trouble, which was a good thing, because they needed all hands on deck for this game.
“I thought they got real physical with us, [and] pushed us out of the lane quite a bit in the first half,” Pennell said. “I thought in the second half, we got deeper position, got the ball inside a little bit more and caused some problems, then our size took over.”
Another area the Lopes struggled in during the game was their free throw shooting. They missed nine of them, including six straight down the stretch, which would’ve sealed the deal, without Lowery having to play Clark Kent at the end.
“Coaches always tell you, any game can come down to free throws,” Lowery said. “We really have to get in the gym and focus on that and our shooting as well because we struggled with that tonight.”
It’s probably a good thing that the game was as tightly contested as it was, because Lowery says that’s the type of game he and his teammates get up for.
“Physical play actually benefits us, because we’re a pretty big team and we like playing physical, especially on the defensive end,” Lowery said. “I like it when they try to push me around a little bit, it wakes me up a little bit.”
The Lopes have a few days until their next opponent – California Baptist – comes to town. They’ll face off with the Lancers on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
These two teams met earlier in the month out in Riverside, Calif., and the Lopes came out on top 77-74 in overtime, so this game should be just as exciting as that one.