Southern Utah falls to GCU in WAC championship game

The Southern Utah University men’s basketball team fell 84-66 to the Lopes of Grand Canyon University in the Hercules Tire Western Athletic Conference championship game.  

First half

The game started off with a block from sophomore center Jason Spurgin, which led to a shot clock violation against GCU. Senior guard Tevian Jones was hot from the start, scoring 12 points in the first 10 minutes. GCU responded with a run of their own that was led by sophomore guard Ray Harrisson, who amassed 20 first-half points. SUU Graduate guard Cameron Healy ended a 9-0 run from GCU with back-to-back three-pointers that put the Thunderbirds’ within one point of the Lopes. 

GCU fought back with another 9-0 run to go up 34-26 over the Thunderbirds. This time it was graduate forward Noah Baumann that scored seven points, which included a four-point play. In the final minutes of the first half, the Lopes advanced their lead with a 19-5 run before the break. This put GCU up 44-31 at halftime. 

Second half

In the first seven minutes, GCU expanded their lead to 16 points and were in control of the game. Junior forward Gabe McGolthlan rallied the Lopes with 14 points of his own in the first 10 minutes of the first half. 

SUU struggled to get anything going offensively and was kept at bay by GCU’s defense. Southern Utah was held to under 40% from the field and 21.4% on their three-point attempts, while Grand Canyon scored on 66.7% of their shots from beyond the arc and made over 50% of their field goal attempts. Harrison played an amazing game for the Lopes and scored 31 points. He earned Most Outstanding Player, while his teammate McGolthan won WAC All-Tournament Team.

The Thunderbirds had two players earn WAC All-Tournament Team. These were seniors Harrison Butler with 11 points and Tevian Jones with 17 points. Fifth-year senior Maizen Fausett also hauled in seven rebounds and amassed 12 points.

Up next

Although the Thunderbirds did not receive a bid for the NCAA Tournament, they will have an opportunity to join the College Basketball Invitational. Time and dates are still to be determined.


Story by: Chevy Blackburn

Photos courtesy of SUU Athletics