The Gannon University women’s basketball team split the first two games of its 2017-18 season over the weekend against Elizabeth City State and Johnson C. Smith in the PSAC-CIAA Conference Challenge in Charlotte, N.C.
The Knights beat the Vikings, 68-50, Friday and fell to the host Golden Bulls, 62-51, Saturday.
Gannon will open its home schedule at 6 p.m. Wednesday when the University of Findlay visits the Hammermill Center.
Friday’s win over Elizabeth City State improved the Knights’ record to 33-11 in season openers all time. The team has won 12 of its last 14 openers.
Gannon shot 38 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range, where they connected on nine shots from behind the arc.
Maggie Mitchell had a good day from the three-point line, connecting on half of her eight attempts, and she finished with a game-high 14 points and six assists.
The Knights played as a team, as each player contributed in different ways. Lauren Tewes had 10 rebounds, Chelsea Rourke collected four steals to go with her 13 points, and Nicole LaCava totaled 13 points and eight rebounds for Gannon.
The Knights led 12-8 after one quarter and used a 15-4 spurt that was capped by Mitchell’s three-point shot in the second quarter to help build a 30-16 advantage over the Vikings at halftime.
Elizabeth City State opened the second half with a 10-5 run, but the Knights extended the lead back to 17 points with a layup from Sydney Mitchell with a little over two minutes to play in the third quarter. Gannon led 49-36 heading into the final quarter, and the Vikings never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
In Saturday’s second tournament game, the Knights could not overcome Johnson C. Smith’s rebounding, and that proved to be key in the loss.
The Golden Bulls outrebounded Gannon 45-22, and 20 of those Johnson C. Smith boards came at the offensive end, where the team converted 17 second-chance points to Gannon’s seven.
The two teams battled evenly during the first two quarters, which ended in a 28-28 tie. Gannon took an early second-half lead on Sydney Mitchell’s three-pointer, but the Golden Bulls went on a 13-4 run in the final four minutes of the third quarter to help build a 43-40 lead entering the final quarter.
Maggie Mitchell’s three-pointer and a layup from LaCava put the Knights in front 45-43 early in the third quarter, but Johnson C. Smith used an 8-0 run to vault back in front 51-45, and Gannon could get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
That came on a Julia Braungart three-pointer with 2:21 left, making it 54-51. That would be the last points the Knights would score, as the host team embarked on an 8-0 run to close the game. JCSU knocked down 7-of-9 nine free-throw attempts down to the stretch to hold off the Knights.
Gannon hit eight more three-pointers on the night, and the Knights lead the PSAC with 17 made three-pointers in two games. Rourke also owns the PSAC lead with six steals after Saturday’s game.
Following Wednesday’s home opener against Findlay, the Knights will open PSAC play this weekend with back-to-back home games Saturday and Sunday against West Chester and Cheyney. Both games will start at 1 p.m. at the Hammermill Center.
CRISTINA DEL DIEGO