by Michael Rowse
The Mustangs opened their 2012-13 campaign on the road against a familiar foe, Grand Canyon University. The Antelopes already had 5 games under their belt while the Mustangs had one exhibition game and it showed early as the 'Lopers rode a strong first half performance to a 69-58 victory over the Mustangs.
The Mustangs did take an early lead on the strength of a pair of 3 point shots by Lucio Luttrell and Chad Carter but GCU would go on a 12-0 run over the next few minutes to open up a 22-12 lead at the midway point of the first half. Chad Carter would lead a comeback attempt with a pair of buckets and two free throw shots to cut the deficit to six at 23-17 but the 'Lopers put together another run and controlled play for the rest of the half taking a twelve point lead into intermission, 41-29. The Mustang shot 32% in the first half while the home team hit at a 46% clip.
Coach Coleman's half time pep talk seemed to do the trick as Western came out en fuego to start the second half of play. Carter hit a quick three point shot and Brelan Berry added a quick jumper to power WNMU to a 7-0 run out of the gate. Merle Branch would add a couple of free throws after Grand Canyon got their first bucket of the half and Western was within five. GCU built the lead back to eight but Luttrell and Berry answered with a couple of buckets and free throw shots to pull the Stangs within two at 44-42.
Andy Solich returned to play for the Stangs after missing last season due to injury and the three point marksmen made his presence felt after GCU went on a 6-0 run to go up by seven. A three point bomb from Solich followed by a Carter layup, then a Solich steal and alley oop to Carter for a huge slam dunk got the Stangs within 2 at 60-58. But GCU rallied getting 9 straight and controlling the boards to finish the Mustangs' hopes for a comeback.
Carter led all scorers with 19 points adding 6 boards and 2 steals as he played all 40 minutes for the Mustangs. Luttrell added 14 for WNMU while Solich came off the bench to add 10 points. Branch led the team in rebounds with 8 including 3 on the offensive boards.
Western remains on the road as they take their annual trip to Hawaii for three games over the Thanksgiving break. WNMU will start the trip playing former PacWest foe Montana State University Billings on Monday night.