Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Men's basketball fails to prevail over Grand Canyon University

Graduate guard DaJuan Gordon throws back a rebound during a game against Grand Canyon University on Jan. 27 at College Park Center. DaJuan scored 13 points.

Photo by Natanael Mazariego

The men’s basketball team (9-11, 4-5) had the No. 1 team in the conference, Grand Canyon University, on the ropes Saturday in front of a raucous College Park Center crowd. After falling behind 30-20, UTA went on a 30-6 run and held a 14-point lead with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Then, just like they did against this same GCU team Dec. 2, the Mavericks faltered down the stretch. Turnovers, missed open shots and miscommunications on defense all contributed to UTA’s troublesome second half as GCU pulled out a 67-61 win.

Head coach KT Turner said postgame that during scouting, UTA saw that GCU was a comeback type of team and that they were comfortable when they were down.

Men's basketball fails to prevail over Grand Canyon University

The men’s basketball team huddles up before a game against Grand Canyon University on Jan. 27 at College Park Center. The final score was 67-61.

Photo by Natanael Mazariego

UTA committed 25 turnovers in the game, the team’s seventh-most in the last 15 seasons. Those turnovers led to 27 points for the Lopes. Turner said postgame it’s hard to beat a team like GCU when the team commits so many turnovers.

“I feel like we had our chances late in the game,” he said. “We had a couple open shots, just didn’t knock them down, but I tip my hat to them. They’re a heck of a team, they play hard.”

Frustration began boiling over in the second half for the Mavericks. After Grand Canyon knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to four, freshman guard Makaih Williams was assessed a technical foul for arguing with officials after Williams fell to the floor earlier in the play and didn’t get the call.

Men's basketball fails to prevail over Grand Canyon University

Attendees react to a slam dunk by senior forward Shemar Wilson during a game against Grand Canyon University on Jan. 27 at College Park Center. Wilson scored 10 points.

Photo by Natanael Mazariego

WIlliams said his turnovers — a team-high eight giveaways — were “unacceptable as a point guard.” Despite this, Williams scored 13 points to tie for the lead in scoring for UTA.

UTA became the sixth team in a Division I game this season to lose when holding an opponent to under 30% shooting. Grand Canyon converted just 16 of their 54 field goal attempts and still found a way to win.

Five of the Mavericks’ 11 losses have been by seven points or less, but Turner remained positive in the postgame, saying he was pleased with a lot of things the team did in Saturday’s defeat.

Men's basketball fails to prevail over Grand Canyon University

Head coach KT Turner looks towards his team during a game against Grand Canyon University on Jan. 27 at College Park Center. The loss marks the second this season against Grand Canyon University.

Photo by Natanael Mazariego

“But we have to continue to get better,” he said.

Saturday’s game served as a reminder that while UTA has improved significantly from last season, they are still a step below the conference’s best. The team had vowed to focus on rebounding after the Dec. 2 loss to GCU and the Mavericks did so, out-rebounding the Lopes 35-32 Saturday. UTA’s defensive physicality also caused problems for GCU in the aforementioned 30-6 run.

Yet it wasn’t enough. When shots weren’t falling, Grand Canyon started attacking and getting foul calls while UTA settled for three-pointers. The Mavericks shot 22 three-pointers in Saturday’s game and only made five of them.

Men's basketball fails to prevail over Grand Canyon University

A cheerleader Mavs Up while junior guard Phillip Russell makes a free throw during a game against Grand Canyon University on Jan. 27 at College Park Center. Russell scored 10 points.

Photo by Natanael Mazariego

Grand Canyon used their aggression to get to the line 36 times, converting 31 of those attempts. UTA shot 18-20 from the line.

The Mavericks will hit the road for their next game, a 7:30 p.m. Thursday matchup against Southern Utah University.

@isaacappelt

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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