Players come off the bench to help in overtime win against GCU

UMKC’s bench played a key role in snapping a three-game losing streak and defeating conference opponent Grand Canyon 87-75 in overtime Feb. 14 at Swinney Rec Center. The game also marked the Roos’ first victory against GCU in two years.

Coming into the game, UMKC was in seventh place in the conference, while GCU was in second. The Roos last faced the Lopes in Phoenix, Arizona on Jan. 19,  losing 78-50.

“We came out with a lot of energy and executed what coach had to say early on,” said junior guard Rob Whitfield. “We stayed locked in and focused more on defense. This is definitely a big win, and we are just going to keep building on to it.”

The Roos dominated the first half, started by Whitfield knocking down three 3-pointers in a row off the bench.

“My coaches and teammates always tell me to shoot, no matter what shoot just shoot, and I kept shooting, and they were going in,” Whitfield said. “It felt great.”

With seconds left in the first half, junior point guard Xavier Bishop made a 30-foot fadeaway, putting the Roos ahead 42-27 at halftime.

UMKC made eight 3-pointers in the first half, and 20 of their 42 points came from players off the bench.

Despite leading by 15 at half, the Lopes tied the game 63-63 with 4:56 left. Down 71-69 with 18 seconds on the clock, sophomore guard Brandon McKissic nailed a game-tying jumper.

“We called a timeout down two to get Brandon McKissic a drive with his right hand, and that was a strong finish by him,” said Head Coach Kareem Richardson.

With the cheering from the fans, GCU junior guard Carlos Johnson couldn’t sink the game-winning free throw, and the game went into overtime.  

Whitfield continued to set the momentum for the Roos in the extra period by breaking the tie. Junior forward Jamel Allen came off the bench hot with two 3-pointers, putting the Roos up by 10 with a minute left.

“Jamel Allen gave us some huge minutes in overtime, hitting a couple of threes—overall he played very well,” Richardson said. “When it’s time to make plays he’s willing and able to do that.”

The Roos outrebounded the Lopes in the last period and held them to just four points, sealing an 87-75 victory.

“In overtime we played to win, and it was very different from the second half,” Richardson said.

The Roos ended with four players in double-figures: Whitfield scored 19 points, McKissic 16, Bishop 15, and Allen 12. McKissic tied his career-high of five assists, and sophomore forward Brandon Suggs had seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

“We have a chance to still do some special things,” Richardson said. “We’re still building, and we will be okay.”

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