PHOENIX, Ariz. – Up against the best defense in the country, Academy of Art University caught fire from long range and upset Grand Canyon 72-69 on Monday night. The Knights kept their eyes locked on a Pacific West Conference Championship and was just the second team this season to hold a first-half lead against the Antelopes. Sophomore forward Alisa Griggs was the Urban Knights' leading scorer for the second consecutive game, finishing with 16 points along with three other teammates who scored in double figures and combined to go 6-for-8 from three-point range.

It was a quick pace in the early going as the teams posted a total of five steals and seven turnovers in first five minutes. Junior forward Ariel Dale provided early offense for the Knights, but GCU held a 13-9 lead at the 12 minute mark. A put-back by junior center Juliua Fraser would spark a 13-3 Art U run in which junior guards Nicol Biesek and Jordan Rogers each nail triples.

TOP 25 SCORES
Academy of Art 72, No. 16 Grand Canyon 69
Shaw 86, No. 24 Johnson C. Smith 56
Complete Scoreboard

The burst was capped by a three-point play from Griggs and Academy of Art was now in front 22-16. Grand Canyon then retook the lead with seven unanswered, but freshman guard Vianai Austin also began to heat up from long range in the first half. Knights skip passes against GCU's zone defense allowed numerous wide-open 3-pointers and Art U steadily pushed a 10-point advantage on an 8-0 run which included back-to-back triples by Austin.

The 'Lopes cut it to five before halftime, 41-36, but it was just the second time all season in which Grand Canyon had not led at the break. Early in the second, Griggs found senior guard Devin London for a trey during a 10-5 opening push by Academy of Art. It seemed as though the Knights could not miss from distance as senior guard Lorraine Etchell connected on another 3-pointer to put the visitors up by 10, 54-44.

GCU, however, would then use a 9-0 run to come within one point midway through the second half, but the lead did not change hands because Biesek converted two in the paint. After both teams cooled off for about two minutes, a strong end-to-end sequence for Grand Canyon's Chigozie Ekweozor tied the game 56-56.

Griggs, however, would fight back to give the Knights a four-point lead, 64-60, just before the third media timeout of the half with 3:24 left. Following the stoppage, Academy of Art burst ahead by six on a jumper by Rogers and a Griggs layup. The teams then traded free throws with Rogers converting a pair. The final minute was fraught with fouls and timeouts called on both sides.

The 'Lopes crept closer with more free throws and, with 19 seconds left, an ART U turnover gave GCU the ball down by three. Much like she did to help the Knights trounce Dixie State in early January, Dale blocked Grand Canyon's Maylinn Smith under the basket with nine seconds on the clock and then Dale grabbed the basketball, forcing a jump ball, but possession still went to the Antelopes. As the buzzer sounded, GCU's Erika Paskell launched a 3-pointer that would have tied the game, but it clanked off the rim and Academy of Art had pulled off the 72-69 upset.

Winners of 10 of their last 11 games, Academy of Art shot a program record 64.3 percent from three-point range (9-of-14) Monday night. ART U had a team-high 16 points from Griggs while a trio of Urban Knights, Dale, Rogers, and Austin, combined for 28 of the team's 41 first half points and those three would all have double digits by the game's end.

In addition to her 13 points (3-of-5 from distance), Rogers had a season-high three blocked shots, three rebounds, and two steals. Austin knocked down three 3-pointers in three tries, finishing with 11 points, a team-high six rebounds, and three steals. Dale's 10 points were complemented by five assists and four rebounds. ART U improves to 15-7 overall and 11-3 in conference to become tied with Dixie State atop the PacWest standings.

The loss was only Grand Canyon's third of the season as the 'Lopes fall to 18-3 overall, 10-3 in the PacWest. Rebounding was key for GCU who finished with 21 offensive boards. Jallisa Butler led the way for the Antelopes with 21 points and nine rebounds (six on the offensive glass) while the ART U defense held Maylinn Smith, the conference's third-highest scorer, to under her season average with 12 points Monday night. Stevie Kamp added 11 points.