Lopes Lock Down, Pull Away From Utah Valley

Dan Majerle couldn’t help but smile Thursday night. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest victory but GCU’s WAC-opening 71-60 win over Utah Valley showed one thing the head coach has always craved from his Lopes.

“We don’t always do the right thing but we try,” Majerle said. “We have a little toughness to us which is nice. We’ve got some veteran leadership.”

One of those tough veterans is senior forward Matt Jackson who scored a career-high 19 points and added eight rebounds. The Australian was equally effective defensively limiting former Corona del Sol High standout Connor MacDougall to just six points in 13 minutes before fouling out.

The Lopes (8-6) didn’t shoot the ball well (35%) but kept UVU off the glass and was able to put a run together and pull away after seeing their 11-point halftime lead evaporate midway through the second half.

The loss snaps Utah Valley’s five-game win streak. The Wolverines (11-5) had won 10 of their last 11 games entering Thursday.

Sophomore forward Alessandro Lever battled off illness earlier in the day scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds. Carlos Johnson added 10 off the bench.

The Lopes, who won their 13th-consecutive regular season home game, will play Seattle University Saturday at GCU Arena.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.