Grand Canyon basketball upsets Saint Mary’s for 1st NCAA Tournament win in school history

Mar 22, 2024, 10:43 PM | Updated: 10:59 pm

Gabe McGlothan...

Gabe McGlothan #30 of the Grand Canyon Antelopes reacts against the St. Mary's Gaels during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2024 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Grand Canyon basketball program earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, taking out No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s 75-66 in the first round on Friday night.

The Alabama Crimson Tide await the Antelopes on Sunday in the second round after defeating Charleston 109-96.

Grand Canyon’s speed and length gave the Gaels problems keeping possession and finishing inside, while the ‘Lopes’ athleticism on drives created opportunities at the cup or the free-throw line.

GCU blocked nine shots and stole the ball eight times, forcing 13 turnovers against a team that averaged 10 per game this year.

Tyon Grant-Foster scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer and a thunderous lob dunk during the Antelopesโ€™ decisive 15-1 run that gave them a 50-35 lead with under 12 minutes remaining.

He added seven rebounds, two blocks and six turnovers, while Gabe McGlothan blocked three shots with 12 points.

Ray Harrison was a closer with 15 of his 17 points in the second half, as GCU outscored Saint Mary’s 47-39 after the break.

And the Havocs showed out in Spokane, Wash., giving GCU a home-court advantage feel.

The two sides played a physical, back-and-forth first half in which neither team created any separation. Grant-Foster and McGlothan had vicious blocks at the rim, while the latter threw down a poster dunk on a drive.

The Antelopes knocked down a pair of triples to open up the second half and prompted a quick timeout, but Saint Mary’s didn’t let the initial run get out of hand. GCU had another in it, though, taking a 12-point lead with 13 minutes left after an 11-0 run.

The stretch included a Harrison lob to Grant-Foster from the baseline on an inbounds play.

Lok Wur smashed a Saint Mary’s floater off the backboard to set up a transition opportunity, and on the other end Jovan Blacksher found Collin Moore on a backdoor cut, who wrapped around a pass to Duke Brennan for the dunk.

The Antelopes figured out a new nickname for this dunk-happy squad, thanks to input on social media:

Wur led the team with four blocks off the bench.

Grand Canyon led by as many as 17 points against the No. 15 team in the county entering the tournament.

The Antelopes were just the seventh team this season to reach the 70-point mark against the regular season and tournament champions of the West Coast Conference. Grand Canyon will face the challenge of the top scoring team in the country next up at 4:10 p.m. on TBS.

GCU won the WAC Tournament to earn a spot in its second straight NCAA Tournament and third in four seasons under head coach Bryce Drew, who captured his first NCAA Tournament win as a head coach.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.ย 

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