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Grand Canyon wins first postseason game, downs UMKC

Grand Canyon head coach Dan Majerle reacts to a call from a game official during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 74-56. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LAS VEGAS — Alessandro Lever scored 29 points and Damari Milstead sank two free throws with 21 seconds remaining as third-seeded Grand Canyon recovered from first-half jitters in the school’s first trip to the postseason and defeat No. 5 seed Missouri-Kansas City 77-74 in the Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals Thursday.

Grand Canyon (21-10) will face No. 2 seed Utah Valley (21-9) in a Friday semifinal.

The Antelopes trailed by as many as 16 in the first half of the school’s first tournament appearance since joining Division I in 2013, but rallied and cut the gap to 42-40 by halftime. Keonta Vernon scored consecutive baskets to tie at 44-44 and the battle was on, with neither team able to get more than five points ahead.

Brandon McKissic made two free throws with three minutes left for a 72-69 lead, but UMKC couldn’t hold it. Lever rebounded his own miss and put it back to give Grand Canyon a 75-72 lead with 1:05 remaining, capping a 6-0 run.

McKissic cut that to 75-74 at 29 seconds but Broderick Robinson missed a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining and Grand Canyon controlled the rebound.

Isaiah Ross scored 18 points for the Kangaroos (10-22), McKissic 17.

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