GCU’s Josh Braun discusses breaking the Antelopes’ career 3-pointers record on Monday in a win over Robert Morris.
Senior guard Josh Braun didn’t waste time putting himself in the Grand Canyon University record book on Monday night.
When his third 3-pointer of the half gave the Antelopes their biggest lead at 44-24, Braun became the school’s all-time leader for made 3s with 199 in his career. He broke Richard Davis’ record of 197 late in the first half, then added to it with his last 3 in the first minute of the second half of a 75-61 win over Robert Morris before 6,833 fans at GCU Arena.
GCU (2-0) extended the nation’s longest active win streak in Division I to nine games.
Braun had 17 of his 20 points in the first half, making six of eight shots and three of four 3s, helping the Antelopes (2-0) take a 48-28 lead over a team that lost by 31 at Ohio State in its opener on Friday night.
“It was a good win for us, especially,” Braun said. “I’m grateful to have an opportunity to put up as many as I have. Hopefully, many more to come.”
– GCU’s defense was a major factor, led by Gerard Martin coming off the bench and starting sophomore wing Oscar Frayer. Martin’s steal and slam, followed by forcing a turnover led to an 18-14 lead. A little later, Frayer made a steal before heading out of bounds at midcourt, then, while in the air, was able to find Casey Benson for a layup and a 38-24 lead with 3:50 left in the half.
Martin, Frayer and reserve guard Fiifi Aidoo give the Antelopes’ a defensive presence that makes opponents’ shooting percentage suddenly go south.
– Benson will be playing a larger role than the one he had at Oregon last year when he was more of a distributor. But don’t ask him to be DeWayne Russell. Russell was an explosive point guard who created for his points. Coach Dan Majerle just wants Benson to be Benson, which was pretty good for three years at Oregon. Benson became more involved offensively in his second game, scoring 10 first-half points and getting to the free-throw line, making four of five. Benson sees the floor well, finding teammates and if it’s his shot he’ll take it. He went 4-of-9 shooting and made 8 of 10 free throws, finishing with 17 points. He had five points but an uncharacteristic four turnovers.
– Frayer’s improved outside shooting is going to make him one of the more dangerous players in the nation. Last year, it was all about using his tremendous quickness on defense to spark steals and fast-break points, and tremendous jumping ability. Monday, he showed off a deft outside game, nailing three 3-pointers in a two-minute span in the second half. He also had nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
– Power forward Keonta Vernon can play his aggressive style and not worry about having to go to the bench so fast with foul trouble. But he also needs to stay in control. He was assessed a technical after picking up his fifth foul with 2:42 left. Majerle has more options off the bench than he did in his first four seasons at GCU. But Vernon’s work on the paint is vital for GCU’s success. He had two blocked shots after picking up his third foul early in the second half.
– The Antelopes need to not shift into cruise control after taking huge leads. As great as they played in the first half (56 percent shooting, 48-28 lead), they got too complacent in the last 10 minutes. They gave up 25 points off 21 turnovers. Even though Braun had 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and made four of seven 3s, he had six turnovers.
“I think they just get a little casual with the ball. They start gambling. It’s human nature. Coach (Pat) Riley always told me, it’s human nature to let up. Oscar hits three 3s or whatever and we’re up by 20-something. It’s let up. You can’t do it. You’ve got to step on the guy, keep them down. … You’ve got to be strong with the ball.” – Majerle
GCU takes on Little Rock on Saturday at home at 7 p.m.
Robert Morris at Grand Canyon men’s basketball
Where: GCU Arena, Phoenix.
When: 7 p.m.
TV/radio: YurView Cox 4/1580 AM/99.3 FM.
GCU update: The Antelopes extended their winning streak to eight games dating to last season in Friday’s 67-51 season-opening victory over Florida A&M. It is the longest active Division I win streak in the nation. They got after it defensively, holding the Rattlers to 27-percent shooting in the first half when GCU built an 18-point lead. Coach Dan Majerle went with an 11-man rotation. The Antelopes shot 44 percent and overcame 17 turnovers. Senior G Josh Braun had 11 points and hit his first two 3-pointers after missing two exhibitions because of a concussion.
Robert Morris update: The Colonels opened Friday at Ohio State, falling 95-64. G Matty McConnell and freshman F Koby Thomas each had 22 points in the loss. Robert Morris made 10 3-pointers. This is the second of an eight-game road swing for the Colonels. They play in the Northeast Conference. They lost to Villanova in overtime in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and beat Kentucky in the NIT in 2013.
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