Lew Evans connected on three free throws in the final 26 seconds to give Tulsa (4-7) a 66-65 come-from-behind victory over the Grand Canyon Antelopes (5-5) in front of 4,191 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center Wednesday night.
Tulsa did not lead in the final 20 minutes until Evans connected on two free throws with 26 seconds remaining to put the Hurricane ahead 65-64. A Tim Peete foul put GCU's Demetrius Walker at the line for two shots with 11 seconds remaining. Walker missed his first freebie but connected on the second to tie the game at 65-65. GCU's Blake Davis put Evans to the line with one second remaining as the Tulsa sophomore missed his first but swished through his second for the Tulsa win.
Evans finished the game with seven points, as fellow sophomores Rashad Smith and Shaquille Harrison tied for the scoring honors with 15 points apiece. Sophomore James Woodard added 10 points and seven rebounds, while Smith led the rebounding effort for the Hurricane with nine boards.
GCU's Walker scored all of his game-high 20 points in the second half, while Daniel Alexander added 15 points and Killian Larson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Grand Canyon shot 67 percent from three-point range and 73.1 percent from the free throw line, while the Hurricane struggled from both spots, shooting 26.7 percent from beyond the arc and 51.6 percent from the free throw line.
The game featured a coaching battle between former 1988 US Olympic Team Members and former Phoenix Suns teammates, Tulsa's Danny Manning and Grand Canyon's Dan Majerle.
"You look at the stat sheet, and you shoot 40 percent from the field," Manning said. "You shoot 27 percent from 3-point range. You shoot 52 percent from the free throw line, and we win the game. We grinded one out. Offense was ugly tonight. We made stops when we needed to. We made that free throw when we needed it. We just kept grinding and scratched that one out.
"Grand Canyon executed and made shots. They shot 6-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half. You don't think that they can shoot much better than that. They come out in the second half and they go 4-of-5. We gave up the long ball, and they knocked them down. There's not much you can say."
Trailing 32-31 at halftime, Tulsa knotted the score with a Woodard free throw, then the score was tied again at 35 and 37 before GCU went on a 10-3 run over the next five minutes for a 47-40 lead at the 11:49 media timeout. The Antelopes increased their lead to nine points at 51-42 with 9:52 remaining in the game before Tulsa's Pat Swilling scored the next five points to cut the GCU lead to four points at 51-47.
Tulsa cut it to two points at 54-52 at the 6:57 mark before GCU increased its lead back to six points. The Hurricane cut it to two points again on back-to-back layups by Smith to make the score 58-56 with 3:44 left on the game clock.
The Hurricane kept its' deficit to within two and four points over the next 90 seconds before cutting the GCU lead to one point, 64-63, on the second of two Smith free throw attempts. Then it was left up for Evans to connect on three of his four free throws.
Tulsa out-rebounded GCU 18-11 in the first half, including a 9-0 advantage on the offensive boards, but the Antelopes shot 60 percent from three-point range, connecting on 6-of-10 treys, while Tulsa made just 2-of-9 3-pointers.
The lead changed seven times in the first half as Tulsa jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a Harrison layup and had its biggest lead of three points at 6-3. Grand Canyon took a 7-6 lead at the 14:24 mark and built a seven-point lead at 28-21 with 5:33 remaining in the first half.
Tulsa scored the next seven points to knot the score at 28-28 at the 2:32 mark. Tulsa's scores came on a Harrison free throw, Smith dunk and layups by Woodard and Peete. The Hurricane had a 31-30 lead with 48 seconds left on the first-half clock before GCU's Justin Foreman knocked down two free throws to give the Antelopes a 31-30 lead at the intermission.
Harrison led Tulsa's first-half scoring with 10 points, followed by Smith with eight points. Alexander led the Antelopes with 12 points in the first 20 minutes.
Tulsa will be on the road for two games with the first coming at TCU on Saturday and following Christmas Day on Dec. 29 the Hurricane plays at Maryland. Tulsa returns home to the Reynolds Center for a Jan. 4 game against Cal State Fullerton with a tip-off time of noon.