LAS VEGAS — One year ago, the Grand Canyon men's basketball team came one win away from its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid following a loss in the 2018 WAC Tournament championship game.
The Lopes are one victory away from getting a second chance.
GCU, the No. 3 seed in this year's WAC Tournament, rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 6 seed Seattle 84-75 on Thursday night in front a large contingent of Lopes fans who made the trip to Orleans Arena.
Junior guard Carlos Johnson scored a career-high 31 points and senior forward Michael Finke added 21 for GCU, which moves on to face No. 2 seed Utah Valley on Friday night. That game will begin at 8:30 p.m. Arizona time and will be streamed on ESPN3.
The Lopes beat Utah Valley in last year's WAC Tournament semifinals, but the Wolverines beat GCU last week in a game at Utah Valley.
"The thing I don't have to worry about is our guys not being ready tomorrow," GCU coach Dan Majerle said about Friday's game. "They'll be ready. These guys have tremendous energy, have tremendous will. They'll run through a wall for me. So, I'm not worried about that.
"We both want to get a shot at the championship, so it'll be a heck of a game tomorrow."
The GCU-Utah Valley winner will move on to Saturday's WAC Tournament championship game and face the winner of the other semifinal game between top-seeded New Mexico State and No. 4 seed Rio Grande Valley. New Mexico State toppled GCU in last year's WAC Tournament final.
"This is what college basketball is all about," Majerle said. "Our guys understand that. Especially for our seniors, this is a chance to do something the school has never done. We have two more to go, but the first step has been taken care of tonight against a very good Seattle team, so we're excited."