After four years of waiting, Grand Canyon University athletics are post-season eligible.
This week the Lopes’ Men’s and Women’s basketball teams are in Las Vegas for the WAC Tournament and for the first time will be competing to get into the tourney.
“We’re excited,” GCU President Brian Mueller told Brad Cesmat on the ‘Brad Cesmat Show‘ on Wednesday. “A little bit of nervousness, but it’s exciting to be here. You really forget what you missed out during those four years.”
On Wednesday, the GCU women beat Utah Valley 72-56. Head coach Nicole Powell is leading the Lopes into tournament contention in her first season at the helm. The women’s team went 15-13 in the regular season.
“She did a great job,” Mueller said of Powell’s first year thus far. “She’s got the kids playing so much better than they played last year. She’s got some kids that can pass the ball, she’s got some kids that can shoot the ball. When they get going behind the three-point line they’re tough to stop.”
Next up for the women’s team is Cal State Bakersfield on Fri. at 1:00 p.m. MST. The Lopes lost to the Roadrunners in early February 69-40 at GCU Arena, but few weeks later traveled to Bakersfield and pulled out a double overtime win with a final of 77-76.
Take a look at the final stats from today's first-round victory over Utah Valley! pic.twitter.com/Y9D0iotWz4
— GCU Women's Basketball (@GCU_WBB) March 7, 2018
For the men’s team, getting the offense going has been a struggle. As WAC tournament play gets started head coach Dan Majerle and Mueller believe the Lopes have turned the corner.
“If they had the ball, the other team had to double team them,” Mueller said of GCU’s offense. “We didn’t have anybody like that for the first half of the season, so every possession was a struggle to score. Thankfully we were unbelievable defensively, and that kept us in it for the first half to two-thirds of the season. It’s really been different these last three games and we’re hoping that continues into the tournament.”
The men’s team will take on the University of Missouri – Kansas City on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. MST. There are expected to be 700-800 Havocs in house for the game. A pep rally will be held at 10:30 on Thursday morning outside Orleans Arena.