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Grand Canyon came out fast, intense, focused, in charge.
That was needed against a Seattle U team that had owned the Western Athletic Conference coming into Thursday's game.
But a 22-point lead was reduced to single digits, before the Antelopes got back on track late to hold on for a 78-66 victory before a sellout crowd of 7,001 at GCU Arena.
It was just great to be back home for the Antelopes (15-5, 6-3), who, after making 48.2% of their field goals and holding Seattle to 37.7% shooting, have now won by an average margin of 21.8 points in their last six home games in front of the Havocs.
They lost their last three games, all on the road.
"Nineteen days between home games," coach Bryce Drew said. "It seemed like the whole month of January we were gone. It's so nice to get back in our home arena with our home fans just to have the energy that they bring to the game."
Guards Jovan Blacksher Jr., and Holland Woods fed off of that with a combined 48 points on 17 of 34 shooting, including 6 of 16 3-pointers, to hand Seattle (17-5, 8-1) its first WAC loss of the season and put the Lopes back on track hitting the midway point in conference play.
Blacksher had a career-high 26 points and Woods 22. It was the second time this season that the duo both had at least 20 points in a game.
"It's great to be in front of the Havocs," said Blacksher, who was held to 10 points in last week's 71-61 loss at New Mexico State. "We knew we had to come out there and give them a show."
In the final minute, with a 14-point GCU lead, the student-section Havocs began chanting, "Over-rated" at the Redhawks (17-5, 8-1), who had their nine-game winning streak end.
It was the first time GCU won in three weeks. The Lopes were swept by Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston in Texas two weeks ago and lost by 10 at New Mexico State last Saturday.
Seattle was led by guard Darrion Trammell's 23 points, including 3 of 5 3-pointers, and Cameron Tyson's 16 points.
But the Redhawks needed the other play in their Big 3 to step up and Sean Miller-Moore did a great job clamping down on Riley Grigsby, who was held scoreless on six field-goal attempts. He only attempted one 3.
"We've seen him last year against us and we couldn't stop him," Drew said about Grigsby. "He made shot after shot against us. We tried every type of defense. It didn't matter. He scored. I think Sean was really focused coming in. He knew he had a big assignment, especially what Riley did against us last year."
Grigsby had 25 points and Trammell 28 against GCU last year, but the Lopes won that game 81-71. They enabled Seattle to get within five, before Blacksher iced that game at the free-throw line.
Blacksher came through again after it looked like GCU would squander a 22-point lead. Blacksher scored on a drive, nailed a short jumper and knocked down a 3 to give GCU a 63-48 lead with 7:55 to play.
Trammell hit two 3-pointers and scored on a drive to get Seattle within 72-64 with 2:41 left.
But Gabe McGlothan, who bounced back from his road struggles, score and Seattle never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
McGlothan had eight rebounds and Yvan Ouedraogo had nine boards to lead the Lopes, wo had 38 rebounds, six more than the Redhawks. But Seattle had 11 offensive rebounds.
A couple of key offensive boards, one by Taeshon Cherry that led to a Blacksher 3, were huge for GCU.
An offensive rebound by Woods led to a Walter Ellis 3 with 4:33 to play that gave GCU a 70-56 lead.
"Credit Walt for having the confidence," Drew said. "He had just missed one. He was open. I thought the second shot that he made was tougher than the first one that he missed."
GCU came out with perhaps the greatest sense of urgency than any game it has played this season, putting the Redhawks in a 7-0 hole. Seattle didn't score until 16:11 was left in the half, the longest GCU opponent has gone to get its first points this season.
Back on track offensively, swinging the ball around, getting to the rim, and finding open shots, GCU shot 51.9% to take a 38-26 halftime lead. This was the largest halftime deficit Seattle had been in this season.
The Redhawks made only 30.8% of their shots and turned it over 10 times in the half. GCU's lead might have been greater if not for its 11 first-half turnovers.
But the Lopes were back asserting themselves on the glass, and closed the final 1:11 of the half on a 9-0 run.
Blacksher Jr., triggered the run with a 3. Miller-Moore, going strong to the basket, scored on one of missed shots and was fouled. Seattle was called for a flagrant foul, and Miller-Moore turned it into a four-point play by making two free throws.
GCU got the ball back. It couldn't score, but it got Seattle to make an errant pass and Dima Zdor cashed in with two free throws with 19 seconds left in the half for a 38-26 lead, the Lopes' largest of the half.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Blacksher, Woods steer GCU back in WAC race in win over Seattle