KANSAS CITY, Mo. – UMKC (9-16, 4-6 WAC) used a 16-4 surge in overtime to take down Grand Canyon (14-10, 7-4 WAC) men’s basketball by an 87-75 score tonight in Western Athletic Conference play from the Swinney Center. The game was dominated by each team in all three periods. UMKC took a 42-27 half into the locker room, while Grand Canyon swung the score back in its favor with a 15-point second-half advantage to send the game to overtime.
The key down the stretch was the Roos defense, as the unit forced eight “empty” possessions by Grand Canyon to begin overtime. The Lopes went 0 for 5 from the field and turned the ball over three times in that sequence. By the time the Lopes scored on two Michael Finke free throws, the Roos led 83-73 with 32 seconds remaining. Jamel Allen had a pair of 3-pointers in the extra stanza and Rob Whitfield chipped in four points to lead the offensive effort.
“Somehow, someway we pulled it out,” said UMKC head coach Kareem Richardson. “I am so proud of these guys for sticking with it. In overtime we played to win, and it was very different from the second half.
“Our guys came back and answered. We called a timeout down two to get Brandon McKissic on a drive with his right hand and that was a strong finish by him (to tie game at end of regulation). Jamel Allen gave us some huge minutes in overtime, hitting a couple of threes, and overall he played very well. For our guys to lock down defensively and get eight-consecutive stops to start overtime, that was really good.”
A team that entered tonight’s contest in sole possession of second place in the conference, Grand Canyon was looking to win its sixth-straight game in the series with UMKC. The Lopes began the contest with a 10-5 lead. But the GCU offense managed just one basket over a five-minute stretch. During that cold streak for Grand Canyon, UMKC’s Whitfield ignited a 14-2 run for the Roos and pushed the home lead to 19-12 at the 8:22 mark.
The Roos stretched the lead to 42-27 on a fade-away 30-foot bomb by Xavier Bishop as time expired at the end of half.
UMKC maintained a double-digit lead for the first six minutes to start the second period. A dunk by Finke, who led all scorers with 36 points, brought the Lopes to within two points at 60-58 at the 7:22 mark. In the final five minutes, the teams had five ties and four lead changes.
Grand Canyon had a chance to win it in regulation as Carlos Johnson went to the free throw line with four seconds remaining. However, his first shot of a bonus attempt missed and both teams lived to play five more minutes.
Whitfield ended his night with 19 points, which included 5 of 9 shots from deep. He now has connected on at least five three’s on five different occasions this year.
McKissic posted 16 points, Bishop added 15 and Allen contributed 12. McKissic tied a career-high with five assists. Brandon Suggs led the Roos with five rebounds and recorded seven points, two assists and two blocks.
Finke shot 16 of 22 from the floor to finish with his game high 36 points. He added nine rebounds and five assists. Alessandro Lever was the other GCU player in double-figures with 20 points. Grand Canyon held a 46-30 advantage on the glass tonight.
UMKC owned the free throw line going 23 of 25 (.920). Meanwhile, GCU was 7 of 11 (.636).
- The Roos stay at home Saturday welcoming CSU Bakersfield to the Swinney Center for a 6 p.m. CST game. There will be a special halftime ceremony recognizing UMKC legend and leading scorer Michael Watson. His #22 jersey will be retired.
- The Roos avenged a blow-out loss in Phoenix, Ariz., in the last meeting when Grand Canyon won 78-50 back on January 19.
- UMKC snaps a five-game losing streak against Grand Canyon in the overall series.
- The Roos improve to 5-2 on the year when making 10-or-more three-pointers. Tonight, they went 12 of 31 from deep.
- With a 92 percent mark at the free throw line, UMKC had its best shooting effort of the season.
- Moving to 9-16 overall, UMKC is one win shy of reaching last season’s total.
- The Roos improve to 7-3 on its home court this year, including 4-1 at Swinney Center.
- The UMKC bench out-scored Grand Canyon by a 38-9 margin.
- The 36 points scored by Grand Canyon’s Michael Finke is a season-high allowed by a UMKC opponent.
- The four turnovers by UMKC is one shy of tying a season-low.