The Grand Canyon Antelopes are one of the newest teams at the Division I level of men’s basketball in the NCAA, having been playing at the top level since the 2013-14 season. In their third season, the Antelopes have started to make serious waves in the WAC, and across the NCAA as a whole. With he exception of their blowout loss at Louisville, the Antelopes have played strong basketball this season. They entered Monday night riding a four-game winning streak, and they opened the season on a six-game winning streak.
On their home court, the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars were looking to score the upset win on Monday night. The season has gone the other direction for the Cougars this season, as they have had to endure a seven-game losing streak in November and December before reeling off two straight wins. After a road loss to the USC Trojans, the Cougars were looking to get back on track with a marquee win over the Antelopes.
The Cougars gave Grand Canyon a run early on, and made them fight down to the wire, but Grand Canyon came away with an 86-75 victory over SIU-Edwardsville.
Despite the Antelopes having a strong record this season, and them riding their second lengthy winning streak of the season, the Cougars were not intimidated in the slightest during the early parts of the game. At the 15:11 mark of the first half, Carlos Anderson put in a layup to kick off a 14-3 run for the Cougars that stretched close to 4 minutes in length.
C.J. Carr recorded 5 points for SIUE during the run.
Grand Canyon went on their own run shortly thereafter, using a three pointer from Matt Jackson to send them on a 16-2 run. Grand Canyon got contributions from several players, including Joshua Braun and DeWayne Russell, and they took back the momentum in the game.
SIUE would chip away, and cut the deficit to just 2 points as the half wore on, but a mini 10-0 run for the Antelopes pushed the lead to 37-25 with 2:01 left on the clock.
The Cougars would use free throws from Grant Fiorentinos at the end of the half to enter the break with some momentum, trailing 40-30 after the opening 20 minutes.
When the second half got under way, the Cougars picked up right where they left off. They proceeded to cut into the Antelopes’ lead, getting it down to single digits before the media timeout, and remaining within striking distance of Grand Canyon. Despite their best efforts, they could never take a lead, and a layup from De’Andre Davis at the 8:34 mark pushed the lead for Grand Canyon to 60-48.
Credit the Cougars for not quitting, and for making the Antelopes work for the victory. SIUE was able to cut the deficit down to just 2 points on a pair of free throws from Carr at the 1:48 mark of the second half, making the score 77-75.
The free throws prompted a timeout for the Antelopes, and whatever was said in the break seemed to register with the players. Braun came out of the timeout and hit a three point jumper, and Grandy Glaze followed that up with a layup to put the game out of reach.
Despite taking a double-digit lead in the second half, the Grand Canyon Antelopes had to fight down the stretch to come away with the 86-75 victory over the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars.
For the visiting Grand Canyon Antelopes, the addition of Saint Louis-transfer Grandy Glaze continues to pay immediate dividends. With an increase in playing time with his new team, Glaze has shown what he is capable of on the hardwood. On Monday night, Glaze recorded 17 points and 7 rebounds in 30 minutes of floor time.
The Canadian is averaging 13.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season, and has scored in double figures in each of his last three games.
Joshua Braun scored a game-high 21 points on the night, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor, and DeWayne Russell recorded a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists in the victory.
As for the Cougars, they had three players reach double-figures, but it wasn’t enough to lead them to victory. Guard Burak Eslik scored a team-high 17 points in a losing effort.
Carlos Anderson and C.J. Carr each recorded 15 points on the night, while Carr added 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals for an all-around solid performance.
The win was the fifth-straight victory for the Grand Canyon Antelopes (12-2), and solidified their ranking in the CCR Mid-Major Power Rankings. In just their third year at the Division I level, the Antelopes look poised to make some noise come conference play in the WAC. Grand Canyon will close out non-conference play in the new year, when they welcome the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats to town on January 3rd.
As for the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (3-9), the loss ws their second straight defeat after back-to-back wins over strong opponents in the Southern Illinois Salukis and Portland State Vikings. Despite the loss, they showed some potential, and could be a tough out come Ohio Valley Conference play. They will close out 015 by opening conference play when they take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on New Year’s Eve.