Gannon falls to Mercyhurst, comes back to beat The Rock


After falling last week to rival Mercyhurst, 48-37, in the debut of the Porreco Pride of Erie Game, the Gannon University men’s basketball team headed back to the drawing board once again.
And three days later, the Knights came up with a successful plan, as they used Jean Yves Toupane’s late-game heroics to fuel a 71-66 win over Slippery Rock.
In Saturday’s matchup with The Rock, both teams appeared to be evenly matched at a glance.
Despite a hard-fought first half, Gannon found itself down by seven points at the intermission.
This did not faze the Knights, however, who brushed off their mistakes in the first half and came together to rally in the second half.
With 6 minutes, 18 seconds left in the game, Gannon was on the wrong end of an eight-point deficit.
The Knights were desperately in need of a playmaker to put some necessary points on the scoreboard. Toupane, Gannon’s senior forward, proved to be that playmaker, as he erupted for 18 points in the final six minutes to turn the game around.
According to Toupane, the team’s focus was heightened being down and nearing the end of the game. Gannon needed stops, and just as importantly it needed to capitalize on its stops by putting some points on the board.
After hitting his first two shots of the final 6 minutes, Toupane decided to keep firing.
“It helped get my confidence back, so I said just go for it,” Toupane said, and that was certainly the right answer for the Knights.
The senior forward from Senegal put the Knights back on top by three after scoring back-to-back buckets with 35 seconds remaining in the contest. He went on to go 8-for-8 from the charity stripe to finally put the game away for the Knights.
The win snapped Gannon’s three-game losing streak.
In the loss to Mercyhurst, the Knights fought hard against their hometown rivals, but ran out of gas and eventually lost the grip on their halftime lead.
Coach John Reilly’s squad played with a noticeably high level of discipline and intensity in the game, which is never a surprise when the Knights hit the floor against the Lakers.
The Knights moved the ball very well against the Lakers’ zone and did an excellent job of making the extra pass by playing unselfishly.
Sophomore Isaiah Eisendorf wasn’t afraid to put his body on the floor multiple times to take a charge and fire up his team.
According to freshman guard C.J. Asuncion-Byrd, Reilly preaches the necessity of his players to rely on one another to achieve success.
Whether it’s feeding off another teammate’s energy during the final minutes of the fourth quarter, or it’s pushing each other in practice to get better, “there’s nothing we can’t do if we play tight and stay together,” Asuncion-Byrd said.
After injuring his ankle, Asuncion-Byrd was forced to sit out approximately two months at the beginning of the season. Despite being unable to practice, he never skipped a beat becoming one of the Knights’ top scorers after his recovery.
Unfortunately, Asuncion-Byrd and the Knights came up short in the loss to Mercyhurst.
Gannon returns to action against conference opponent Edinboro at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Hammermill Center.
The Knights bring an overall record of 4-13 and a PSAC mark of 3-11 into the game while Edinboro enters play 11-6 overall and 10-4 in PSAC play.

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