All Grand Canyon head basketball coach Russ Pennell could do was chuckle after the Antelopes 13-game home win streak came to a screeching halt as Josh Lowery’s free-throw line jumper fell short and Dixie State escaped with a hard-fought 65-64 win at GCU Arena Saturday night.
“He had a wide open look, in fact it might have been too open,” Pennell told Pros2Preps.com after the game. “I told him if I can get Josh Lowery that shot 50 times I want him to get it 50 times because most of the time he’s going to make it.”
The Lopes (17-5, 8-3) had been living dangerously this season at home making late runs to overcome deficits or closing out games in the final minutes. They met their match against Dixie (14-4, 9-1) who had already beaten the Lopes in St. George, Utah last month.
Each team started slow in the first half struggling to find any rhythm offensively. Starting guard Jerome Garrison and key reserve Blake Davis helped GCU take a 30-25 halftime lead as each team managed just seven made field goals before intermission.
Dixie picked up their shooting in the second half (52%) and looked as though they were going to put the game away but the Lopes made on last run and had a chance to win it after Lowery’s missed free throw in the final moments was rebounded by Garrison who called timeout with just over five seconds to play.
Pennell said despite the loss the Lopes have plenty to play for with seven games remaining. A top-two seed in the PacWest tournament secures a bye into the semifinals.
“I think this team has a lot of character and a lot of heart,” he explained. “As as you saw [Saturday] they’ll never quit.”
Garrison led GCU with 16 points while Lowery had 14 and Davis finished with 12. The trio combined to make six of eight three-pointers.
The Lopes head back on the road for a four-game California trip starting with Holy Names February 9th in Oakland.