Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona made history by winning its first men’s basketball Western Athletic Conference with a 74 to 56 win over New Mexico State in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Grand Canyon University Lopes destroyed New Mexico State Aggies chance at making it to the annual NCAA Tournament. The Lopes were the only Arizona team to win their way to the yearly contest. The stellar win gave the lopes their first opportunity to play at the NCAA Tournament at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Two hundred forty student fans, who are widely known as the Havocs, traveled 1,698 miles from Phoenix to Indianapolis to support their favorite team. The Havocs are notorious for their energy and excitement for their team. They are often singing along to “Party ‘till we Die” by MAKJ and Timmy Trumpet while dancing and dressing up for fun game theme nights such as U.S.A, Disney, Retro night, etc. Even Iowa fans were impressed by their passion for the Lopes, Twitter user David Dwyer even commented, “as an Iowa fan (and grad), I enjoyed your fans’ enthusiasm.”
Last summer, Grand Canyon University fired former men’s basketball coach, Dan Majerle, the university then hired Bryce Drew. According to Sports Spectrum on March 19, 2021, Drew was a former coach for Valparaiso and Vanderbilt. With a new coach, the Lopes were able to reset for the 2021 basketball season.
Drew was interested in working for Grand Canyon University because the college aligned with his faith-centered lifestyle. Drew frequently talked about how faith was a core focus of the team’s success and unity. After claiming their ticket to the NCAA, the team gathered to pray as a team on national TV. This was not Drew’s first time making it to the NCAA Tournament. Drew was a part of the first three tournament teams. In the 1998 Tournament, Drew hit a game-winner upset over Ole Miss.
Grand Canyon University was aware of the circumstances leading to the big competition. They were a fifteen seed, while Iowa stood in a no. 2 seed. GCU played hard as they fought to maintain the game’s pace that Iowa had set early on in the game. They even played against one of the best players in the country and potential player of the year, Luke Garza.
A historic season came to an end on March 20th when the lopes fell short during the first round of March Madness. GCU Lopes lost to Iowa Hawkeyes with a final score of 86 to 74. Although the Lopes headed home, they have made it to a place where no other GCU team has been before. The future of the Grand Canyon University men’s basketball is optimistic.