Asbjørn Midtgaard is a big man. And coming off a rather mundane performance on Friday night, Midtgaard need to respond. And the 7-foot, grad transfer from Wichita State did just that on Saturday night.
Midtgaard had a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double to lead GCU to a 74-64 win over Utah Valley at GCU Arena on Saturday night. The win gives the Lopes a share of the WAC regular season crown for the first time in program history.
“For these players to feel the success that they had during the regular season hopefully will ignite even more of a passion for basketball and more of a passion for winning,”GCU head coach Bryce Drew said. “We want to be able to build something special here and that takes time. It takes steps and I’m really proud of these guys for what they’ve accomplished so far this year.”
Four other Lopes were in double figures, led by Alessandro Lever’s team-high 16 points. Lever also had nine rebounds. Jovan Blacksher Jr, Mikey Dixon and Gabe McGlothan were all in double figures with 14, 10 and 10, respectively.
Utah Valley was led by big man Fardaws Aimaq who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Jamison Overton was also in double figures with a team-high 13 points.
However, the Lopes got the job done in the paint and on the glass. GCU out-rebounded the Wolverines 37-27 and had a 34-26 points advantage in the paint.
And after having just eight points and six rebounds in Friday’s loss, Midtgaard responded in kind. Emphatic dunks, protecting the rim, and cleaning up the glass. Along with teammate Alessandro Lever, the GCU big men had nearly as many rebounds combined as Utah Valley did total as a team. Midtgaard and Lever had 20 combined rebounds. Utah Valley had 27 as a team.
“I don’t even have any words to describe it,” Lever said after his 111th start as a Lope. “It just feels amazing. We finally did it. We made history.”
GCU now goes into the WAC tourney as the top seed. UVU will be the 2-seed. Both have a bye to the semifinals and don’t play until Friday night. Utah Valley gets the winner between New Mexico State and UTRGV. GCU will play the winner of California Baptist and Seattle U.