Grand Canyon beats Saint Mary's for first-ever NCAA tourney win

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 23 Mar, 2024 at 07:17 AM

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tyon Grant-Foster recorded 22 points and seven rebounds and Grand Canyon won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time with a 75-66 victory over Saint Mary's on Friday night in West Region first-round play at Spokane, Wash.

Ray Harrison added 17 points and six assists for the 12th-seeded Lopes (30-4), who are making their third appearance in March Madness. Gabe McGlothan contributed 12 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots and Collin Moore added 10 points as Grand Canyon won its sixth straight game.

Mitchell Saxen had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Aidan Mahaney scored 13 points but was just 5 of 21 from the field for fifth-seeded Saint Mary's (26-8). Mason Forbes and Luke Barrett each tallied 11 points and Augustas Marciulionis added 10 points and eight assists for the Gaels, who lost for just the third time in 26 games.

Grand Canyon will face No. 4 Alabama in Sunday's second round.

"This is our third time coming, so this is kind of the next step in the maturation of a winning program, is being able to win a game in the tournament," Lopes coach Bryce Drew said. "For myself and I think for our program -- and for our school -- it's just a huge step so people can realize how special a school GCU is."

The Lopes connected on 42.9 percent of their shots, including 5 of 18 from behind the arc. Lok Wur had four of Grand Canyon's nine blocked shots.

Saint Mary's shot 38.8 percent from the field and made 7 of 25 from 3-point range.

Mahaney said, "We're a good-shooting team. We just didn't shoot well tonight."

Gaels coach Randy Bennett added of the Lopes, "They have some guards who put some pressure on you, but it's a big discrepancy to overcome. And having said that, we still should have overcome it. We didn't guard well enough and definitely weren't good enough offensively for the first 30 minutes."

The Gaels pulled within 35-34 on back-to-back baskets by Mahaney before Grand Canyon exploded with a 17-1 run.

McGlothan scored six straight points and Foster followed with five on a 3-pointer and a dunk to give the Lopes a 46-34 lead.

After Marciulionis split two free throws, Harrison scored six straight points to push the Grand Canyon lead to 52-35 with 11:15 left in the game.

Saint Mary's answered with a layup from Forbes, a 3-pointer by Marciulionis and another hoop by Forbes to creep within 10 with 9:16 remaining.

A short time later, the Lopes led by 13 before the Gaels received a 3-pointer by Alex Ducas, a layup from Saxen and a trey by Mahaney to move within 57-52 with 6:37 left.

Two free throws apiece by Harrison and Moore allowed Grand Canyon to make it a nine-point lead with 5:42 remaining.

Mahaney drilled another trey as his team moved within 64-58 with 4:34 remaining but the Lopes kept Saint Mary's from getting closer. Harrison's layup made it 69-60 with 1:41 left and Grant-Foster made two free throws with 1:01 to go as Grand Canyon closed it out.

Grand Canyon held a 28-27 halftime edge. Saxen had 10 points in the half for the Gaels.

Grant-Foster was Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in his first season with Grand Canyon.

He collapsed at halftime of a game while playing for DePaul on Nov. 10, 2021, was revived in the locker room and three more times in the ambulance. Grant-Foster underwent two heart surgeries and was away from the game for 16 months before being cleared and signing with the Lopes. Friday was an occasion he envisioned when he was sidelined.

"All the time, all the time," Grant-Foster said. "Just because I couldn't play, the dream never went away."

--Field Level Media