Senior Night for the men’s and women’s basketball teams brought out a crowd of Gannon University faithful to the Hammermill Center on Feb. 24 before students headed home for spring break.
Pregame festivities at the year’s second Porreco Pride of Erie game honored 10 seniors from the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
Cory Bailey, Tony Boykins, Jon Dogbo, Jean Yves Toupane and three-year team manager Max Seng were recognized for the men’s team.
Following the tip, Mercyhurst took control of the game immediately and cruised to a 76-47 win in the Knights’ season finale.
The loss left Gannon with an overall record of 7-19 and a 6-16 mark in PSAC play. The seven-win total was the lowest since 1946-47, when Gannon went 2-16.
Gannon has won fewer than 10 games only one other time since 1960, with that coming in the 2006-07 season. That year, the Knights went 9-17, but followed it up with a stellar 26-5 mark in 2007-08.
In the loss to Mercyhurst, the Lakers went on a 7-0 run against the Knights early on to put them on top 12-4 only 4 minutes, 30 seconds into the contest
The Knights continued to fall behind with another 20-4 run by the Lakers.
Gannon’s deficit swelled to 29 points at the intermission.
Coach John Reilly admitted the Lakers were the far more aggressive team.
“We didn’t do a good job competing until the second half, but at that point the game was already over,” Reilly said.
Mercyhurst increased its lead to 30 in the second half and breezed to the win.
With this win the Lakers defended their Porreco Pride of Erie trophy, and swept the Knights for the ’15-’16 season.
Toupane was the only Knight to score in double digits against the eventual PSAC champion Lakers.
Matthew Dogan had seven points, Isaiah Eisendorf had six and Marcus Jones contributed five to round out the rest of the Knights’ top scorers.
This season has been nothing short of a disappointment compared to previous years for the Knights, according to Reilly.
“We had a great group of guys, but we failed to master any one area,” Reilly said. “Our whole DNA was so much different than it has been in the past.
“We haven’t competed at a high level, and our trust on the court wasn’t what it needs to be for a championship team.”
Inconsistency from the Knights was another major talking point for Reilly.
Gannon’s inability to come together defensively, in addition to inconsistent scoring from serious offensive threats, hurt the team this year.
The team has historically been one of the best defensive teams in the country, according to Reilly.
Reilly’s ’14-’15 squad finished with a stellar record, and was ranked No. 1 in the nation in Division II for points per game allowed.
Reilly said he hopes to get his team back there during this offseason.
After a short break, the players will begin postseason meetings.
Reilly said hopes to focus on defining the roles of his players during the offseason, something the team struggled with this season, he said.
In addition the Knights will have to put in lots of work in the weight room, and on the court to further develop their skills.
Reilly also plans on getting some help with a new recruiting class next year. From locally, to places as far away as California, Reilly hopes to build upon what he’s learned this season.