Grand Canyon knocks off No. 25 San Diego State for its first win over ranked opponent
Dec 5, 2023, 11:51 PM
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHOENIX— Ray Harrison stood at the center of the court, searching for an escape route as Grand Canyon’s students charged toward him.
GCU’s “Havocs” had him surrounded and, after one of the biggest wins in program history, Harrison joined in the celebration.
Harrison scored 23 points, Gabe McGlothian had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Grand Canyon beat No. 25 San Diego State 79-73 on Tuesday night for its first win over a ranked opponent.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Harrison said. “I was trying to get up out of there, but there was a dude in my face saying, ‘Nope, you’re staying right here.’ It was dope.”
The Havocs camped out by the hundreds to see the Antelopes play the reigning national runner-up. San Diego State’s return to the AP Top 25 this week after a three-week hiatus only added to the rowdiness in one of college basketball’s most unique environments, where students chant, dance and cheer in unison.
The Havocs were treated to a game that started as a defensive struggle and turned into an offensive outburst to start the second half.
The Antelopes (7-1) got hot and didn’t stop until late, using a 17-4 run to take a 13-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes left. Grand Canyon kept the Aztecs at bay from there despite not hitting a field goal over the final 4:27 to win its first game in 10 tries against ranked opponents.
Tyon Grant-Foster added 18 points for the Antelopes, off to their best start since joining Division I in 2013-14.
“What an awesome night, from the crowd to the excitement of the game,” Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew said. “Obviously, being able to beat our first ranked team in our home gym is extra special.”
Jaedon LeDee led San Diego State (7-2) with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.
The Aztecs trailed by seven at halftime and made shots early in the second half, but faded during a key stretch as the Antelopes revved the crowd. San Diego State went more than four minutes without a field during Grand Canyon’s big run, leaving the Aztecs without enough time to complete a comeback in a hostile environment.
“We fought to the end, but didn’t play well enough to win on the road,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said.
San Diego State has been one of the nation’s best defensive teams, a hard-nosed identity that took the Aztecs to last season’s national championship.
The Antelopes showed they can play a little D, too.
Grand Canyon collapsed in the lane to force difficult shots and the Aztecs missed several open 3s. San Diego State missed 13 of its first 16 shots and went scoreless over the final 2:54 of the first half.
McGlothian scored the final four points of a closing 9-0 run that put Grand Canyon up 35-28.
The teams switched gears to start the second half, trading baskets and leads until GCU went on an 17-4 run to go up 69-56. San Diego made a late push, cutting the lead to five, but it was too late.
Grant-Foster is known more as a scorer, but he surprised the Aztecs with his passing.
Grand Canyon’s leading scorer at 22.3 points a game had five assists against San Diego State after dishing out five combined through the first five games.
“We played good defense and he gave it up tonight,” Dutcher said. “He’s just been going downhill and scoring the ball, but he gave it up today and that’s a big improvement for their team and their future.”
San Diego State: The Aztecs’ return to the AP Top 25 will be short-lived after succumbing to the Antelopes and their boisterous fans.
Grand Canyon: The Antelopes reached the NCAA Tournament in two of Drew’s first three seasons and appear to have the type of tenacious team to do it again. They should garner some votes for next week’s AP Top 25, at minimum.
San Diego State: Hosts UC Irvine on Saturday.
Grand Canyon: At Liberty on Saturday.