LAS VEGAS – Grand Canyon shot a blistering 56 percent from the field in the second half to send Seattle University men's basketball to an 84-75 defeat in the opening round of the 2019 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Thursday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The sixth-seeded Redhawks drop to 18-14 on the season while the Lopes move to 19-12, advancing to the tournament's semifinals where they will face second-seed Utah Valley Friday.
"This was two really good teams taking full round-houses at each other," said Head Coach Jim Hayford. "Some games you win and some games you lose. We didn't lose this game, Grand Canyon won this game. They played at a really high level and were the better team tonight."
The Lopes started hot, scoring the game's first eight points and forcing an early Seattle U timeout just 1:27 into the game. Morgan Means would score the first five Redhawk points and Terrell Brown added a three as Seattle U got into the run of things, making it 11-8 GCU with 17:11 on the clock.
With GCU leading 25-19 midway through, the Redhawks put together a 6-0 run, capped by a Mattia Da Campo and-one, knotting the score at 25-all.
Brown would then go to work, scoring the next six straight Redhawk points and grab the lead, 33-29 with 3:50 to go in the frame. Seattle U would extend the lead to as many as seven before taking a 38-35 lead into the break.
The Lopes opened the second half much like the first as Carlos Johnson and Oscar Frayer hit back-to-back threes, quickly stealing back the lead just 70 seconds into the frame.
Johnson would pace GCU in the second, scoring 22 of his game-high 31 points after the half. He scored four straight points midway through to open up GCU's first double-digit lead, 65-55.
Seattle U would repeatedly cut the spread back into single digits, but managed just 36.1 percent from the field and could never get over the hump. A Means three with 1:54 remaining made it 82-75. The Lopes would hit two free throws down the stretch as the game's final points.
"We went through a really hard season, but we kept grinding and being tough," said Hayford. "The sis a young team with no seniors and we still have more basketball in us."
Seattle U will announce its postseason plans in the coming days.