The Grand Canyon University Havocs are at it again, continuing to affirm that they are, in fact, the biggest party in college basketball. At Saturday's game against conference rival New Mexico State, Lopes of all ages filled the GCU Arena to show off their purple pride. Leading the herd was the Grand Canyon Havocs, the VIP student section that jumps, screams, and heckles to the very best of their ability...for the entirety of the game. These dedicated students had been waiting all year for this game, and after losing to the Aggies in Las Cruces earlier last month, the Lopes were hungry for revenge.
Havocs President Steve Hunsaker rallied the troops at the tailgate before the game, "I know we bring it every game, but this game we are really going to BRING IT." No further explanation was needed — the Lopes knew exactly what bringing it entailed. They were ready.
All 4,479 in attendance received a free, "white out" t-shirt, assuring the crowd was all on the same page. The handful of crimson Aggies fans stuck out like a sore thumb, quickly ignored (and unheard) during traditional Canyon pre-game events such as the purple pregame party, the GCU fight song, and a plethora of other choreographed dances and cheers. The Arena was thundering, packed to the brim as fans stood in the top tier of the building. Everyone in attendance was ready for Lopes basketball. As this tweeter observed...
Tip-off brought every fan to their feet, pointing and shouting at the top of their lungs. As Keonta Vernon started the Lopes off with an easy bucket, the fans stayed rowdy.
The game continued in general GCU fashion. The Thundering Herd Pep Band was rockin' and rollin', the dancers, cheerleaders, and Havoc leaders kept the crowd in sync, and fans cheered "Ha-Ho-Hwa-Hwee-Ha-Ho-Ho-Ho! " (an ode to everyone's favorite clownfish) during Aggies' free throws. No one sat down. No one stopped yelling. No one was willing to give New Mexico even the smallest of breaks.
To some, this may seem extreme, but to the Lopes, this is just business as usual.
WAC Commissioner, Jeff Hurd, was in attendance, no doubt having chosen the right game to view. At one point in the evening, each team found themselves with a 10-point lead. Yet it was the Lopes that pulled ahead, going on a 19-0 streak to save the game; key players were DeWayne Russell, Darion Clark, and Joshua Braun. The final score was 83-71, Lopes.
Statistically speaking, this game was a doozy. Toting the number-two most attended game in GCU Arena history, a win over the Aggies, and witty cheers that included cardboard cutouts of Betty White (get it?), this was a big game for both the players and the fans. But more importantly, this shows where GCU basketball is headed. This gives the world a glimpse of what goes down on a Game Day in Lope Land.
Basketball at Grand Canyon is a lifestyle. Especially for large games such as this one and the matchup against Louisville in early December, the Lopes like to make a splash. Between the Havocs' spirit, the community's support, and one heck of a basketball team led by Thunder Dan Majerle, GCU basketball is going to keep gaining national attention. As the Lopes continue to paint the Phoenix Valley purple, one thing is very clear — it's Canyon time.