Basketball trip ends with loss, memories

Basketball+trip+ends+with+loss%2C+memories

The Gannon University men’s basketball team dropped a pair of exhibition games against Division I opponents over the weekend, losing Friday to the University of Pittsburgh, 80-50, and falling Saturday to George Washington University, 92-47.

This was the Knights’ first matchup against a Division I opponent since last year’s squad fell to Siena.  Pitt is in the Atlantic Coast Conference along with basketball heavyweights such as Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse.

Against Pitt, Gannon took a brief 7-6 lead in the first five minutes on freshman C.J. Asuncion-Byrd’s 3-pointer.

That would be the Knights’ last lead as the Panthers strung together seven straight points, sparking a run that took Pitt into halftime with a 35-14 lead.

Gannon responded right out of the gates in the second half, getting within 15 at 40-25 after a pair of free throws from senior Tony Boykins.

However, the Knights faltered late as a string of Panther runs put the game out of reach.

Gannon shot 32 percent from the field, 22 percent from the 3-point line and 55 percent from the free-throw line.

Senior Jean-Yves Toupane led all scorers with 21 points, and Asuncion-Byrd was the only other Knight in double figures with 10.

Gannon then boarded its bus and headed down to Washington in preparation to play George Washington University, a member of the Atlantic-10 conference.

George Washington is where Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach attended college and played on the team, paving the road to his 16 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, and cementing a basketball-centric campus and tradition.

The Colonials jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the Knights responded with 10 points of their own, sparked by two 3’s by Asuncion-Byrd and another by Toupane.

The two teams battled back and forth until about the 10-minute mark, when George Washington ripped open a run of 14 straight points, leading to a 45-30 lead at halftime.

From there, Gannon fell behind by 20 within two minutes of the second half, and was unable to trim the lead any more until the final buzzer sounded.

Asuncion-Byrd led the way with 13 points, with Toupane not far behind with 11. Senior Jon Dogbo and freshman Max Kerr both came off the bench for five points apiece.

Sophomore walk-on Will Gadson was able to notch his first collegiate basket late in the second half, snagging an offensive rebound and putting it back up for an easy two points.

Despite a long two days, the Knights did not take the trek back to Erie Saturday night; rather, they stayed and on Sunday explored the National Mall in Washington.

For many of the players, it was the first time they had the chance to experience those national landmarks, and the day was enriched by the fact the players were given the names and photos of five Gannon graduates who died in the Vietnam War.

The players were split into groups and tasked with finding one name each on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and sketching the carving so it could be returned to Gannon’s current ROTC program; the wall contains over 58,000 names.

“It was good to help the Gannon community off the basketball court and more importantly it was good to see what people from Gannon and their history really stand for,” Gadson said.

This effort was spearheaded by Joe Gaeta, president of the Gannon Athletic Booster Club, and a frequent traveler with the team.

“He’s been around the program for a long time and still has a passion for Gannon basketball,” senior Cory Bailey said. “He does a lot for us so we love having him around and taking advantage of an opportunity to give back to him.”

The day gave the team an opportunity to grow together and take a step back from basketball.

“It was a great team experience to learn about people in the past,” Boykins said. “A lot of people died so we could have our freedom. It really shows how privileged we are to even be here today.”

 

MAX SENG

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