It was a classic back and forth affair, as both teams collected good runs throughout the game, with the lead never getting out of the single digits. With a 36 point tie at the half, this game had the makings of an absolute barnburner, and delivered.
In the end, it would come down to who could calm down and get the key plays in crunchtime. In tonight's matchup, that team was the Grand Canyon Antelopes, as the 'Lopes stunned a Chippewa team that had seemed to return to form in the waning seconds of the game to continue their undefeated streak.
De'Andre Davis and Gerard Martin paced the 'Lopes with 17 points apiece, while Grandy Glaze contributed 13. The 'Lopes were on fire from the three-point stripe, going 44% (8-18,) while also outshooting the Chippewas form the floor, going 45.6% (26-57) overall.
Braylon Rayson (25 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist) led all scorers in the game, while John Simons (24 points, 5-7 field goals, 4-5 3-point attempts) seemed to find his shooting stroke before running into foul trouble with just under six minutes to play in the second half. Rayshawn Simmons (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) was also a key part of the Chippewa operation.
The game was not a very clean one, with two Grand Canyon players (Boubacar Toure and Matt Jackson) getting technical fouls early in the game, and both teams combining for 34 turnovers and 44 personal fouls, with John Simons and Gerard Martin fouling out for their respective teams.
The Chippewas found themselves with the biggest lead of the night with 11:17 to go in the second half after Rayshawn Simmons jumper put them up by eight, but it all fell apart from there, as the Chippewas could not keep the 'Lopes out of the paint for second chances, being out-rebounded 37-29. Grand Canyon went on a wild 11-point run over the next two minutes, highlighted by a Keonta Vernon turnover transition dunk, as Vernon and Martin rallied the team back to a friendlier score.
The game turned into a free-throw contest towards the end, and Central Michigan actually performed better from the line by a wide margin (84.6%-65.2%). It would be of no consequence, though, as Rayson missed the free throws that would have given CMU the lead with 16.5 seconds to play, and GCU converted theirs, forcing Rayson and Josh Kozinski (4-19 from three-point range combined on the night) to try to win the game in the final second.
The Chippewas find themselves in a dangerous spot now almost mid-way through their non-conference schedule, as they are saddled with their fourth loss in seven games on the year in a season where they were selected to be the MAC representative in the tournament. They next play NAIA-level squad Aquinas College at home on December 7th.
The Antelopes, meanwhile, remain undefeated at 6-0, and next play 24th-ranked Louisville on the road on December 5th.