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Grand Canyon wins WAC conference tournament, earns 1st NCAA bid

Bryce Drew in his first year as Grand Canyon's head coach helped lead the Lopes to their first NCAA Tournament.
Credit: AP
Grand Canyon's Chance McMillian (2) lays the ball up as New Mexico State's Johnny McCants (35) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Western Athletic Conference men's tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

PHOENIX — Grand Canyon basketball defeated New Mexico State 74-56 in the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship on Saturday night to give the Antelopes their first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

Jovan Blacksher Jr. had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Lopes.

Top-seeded Grand Canyon (17-6) took the lead for good during a 12-0 run that ended at 19-9 on Oscar Frayer’s layup. Grand Canyon’s 7-0 run late in the half pushed the lead into double digits for good.

The Antelopes entered the game ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 37.7% and held No. 3 seed New Mexico State to 36.4% on 20-of-55 shooting. The Aggies attempted 32 shots from 3-point range, making nine of them.

Asbjorn Midtgaard added 12 points and eight rebounds, and Mikey Dixon scored 10 points for the Lopes.

Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew, in his first year with the Lopes, was in the NCAA Tournament exactly 23 years ago when he made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for Valparaiso to beat 10th-ranked Mississippi.

The Antelopes lost to New Mexico State in the previous two WAC championship games in 2018 and 2019.