The Grand Canyon University men's basketball team (13-13, 8-5 WAC) tonight dropped a tightly-contested 85-80 game to visiting Kansas City (9-18, 6-8 WAC) at GCU Arena. The Antelopes led for most of the game but a late rally by the Kangaroos proved to be enough for their second straight win over a team in the top-third of the Western Athletic Conference.
It was just the third loss for GCU at home this season and the first time they have lost back-to-back games since dropping five straight from Dec. 14-30.
Click here to listen to Michael Potter's postgame interview with assistant coach Mark Nelson.
For the game, the 'Lopes shot 52.1 percent (25-for-48), their fifth game this season at 50.0 percent or better. Kansas City went 31-for-56 (55.4 percent) from the field and were above the 50.0 percent mark in both halves. The 'Roos also made 11 three-pointers in the game.
GCU outrebounded the 'Roos 33-21, but Kansas City was able to score 22 points off 12 'Lopes turnovers.
Jerome Garrison led the 'Lopes offense with a career-best 31 points, while Killian Larson had 27 and Sam Daly added a career-high-tying 12 points. Garrison also drained a career-best seven three-pointers.
The 'Lopes opened a quick 5-0 lead, but Kansas City responded with 10 unanswered points of their own to make it a 10-5 game with 15:36 on the clock. Both were hot from the field in the early going as they traded baskets over the next four minutes while GCU chipped away at Kansas City's lead, reclaiming the advantage (22-21) with just under 13 minutes to play.
Behind Garrison's back-to-back three-pointers, the 'Lopes made it 28-21 at the 9:40 mark and built a 10-point advantage just three minutes later (35-25). However, the 'Roos drained three consecutive shots from beyond the arc to pull back within one point, 34-35, with five minutes to play in the half.
Kansas City would knot the score one more time, but the 'Lopes rallied to carry a six-point advantage into the break, 46-40. Garrison had 21 first-half points, just nine shy of his career-high. Larson added 17 points, while he and Daniel Alexander both collected five rebounds. Both squads were impressive from the field, as the 'Lopes shot 61.5 percent (16-for-26) compared to 57.7 percent (15-for-26) for Kansas City.
The second half was tightly contested from the start after the 'Roos quickly tied the score. GCU led by as many as six in the half before Kansas City made it a two-point game (59-57) with 12:12 on the clock. The 'Lopes then used a 9-4 run to stake the 68-61 lead with just under nine minutes to play.
The 'Roos answered with a 10-2 spur of their own to take the 71-70 lead with 5:54 remaining and reclaimed the lead for good a minute and a half later.
The 'Lopes will play their final home game of the season when they welcome Chicago State to GCU Arena for a 7 p.m. contest on Saturday. Homecoming festivities will highlight the day, as the team will also recognize their seniors prior to tipoff.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.