Knights beat Cal, fall to Slippery Rock


Things haven’t been falling into place all that often this season for the Gannon University men’s basketball team.
But red-hot shooting from guards Kevin Kuteyi and Matthew Dogan, in addition to solid performances by Emmanuel Matey and Jean Yves Toupane, propelled the Knights to a 77-68 victory over California University of Pennsylvania on Feb. 17.
The win, coupled with Saturday’s 65-57 loss to Slippery Rock, left the Knights with an overall record of 7-18 and a 6-15 mark in PSAC play going into Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. season finale against rival Mercyhurst at the Hammermill Center.
Wednesday’s game will be the second of the two Porreco Pride of Erie Games this season; the Lakers won the first one, 48-37, at Mercyhurst to snap the Knights’ three-game winning streak in the series.
Kuteyi and Dogan both recorded career-high point totals in the win over Cal.
Kuteyi went 9-for-13 from the field and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe to finish with 27 points.
Dogan had 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and a 2-for-2 effort from the free-throw line.
Matey ran the floor for the Knights, and he and Toupane each had five assists.
Matey was not shy about pushing the ball and dishing it to players like Toupane in transition, something coach John Reilly has been encouraging his young team to do.
Due to their lack of height this season, Reilly pushes the issue for his players to utilize their athleticism to get easy baskets.
Saturday’s loss to Slippery Rock left the Knights with just one road win in 12 starts on the season.
Despite freshman Ian Gardener’s career-high-point total (19), Slippery Rock held the Knights to only 30 percent shooting from the field, and only 20 percent shooting behind the arc.
The Knights trailed by 12 at halftime and fell behind by 18 early in the second half. They made a late run to cut the lead to five at 62-57 with less than a minute to play, but could not get closer.
Compared to last season’s 23-9 record – a .719 winning percentage — this year has been a struggle for Reilly, winningest coach in Gannon men’s basketball history with 191 victories in 11 seasons.
In addition to having a host of newcomers on the roster, the inconsistency of freshman starting guard C.J. Asuncion-Byrd’s health has also been an obstacle for Reilly.
Asuncion-Byrd hurt his foot in the Knights’ second game against Seton Hill on Feb. 10, sidelining him for the rest of the ‘15-16 season. This is the second time this season Asuncion-Byrd has had to sit out for injury-related issues.
Asuncion-Byrd said he is not happy about missing games, but he is grateful that he will be able to get back on the court in a relatively short time to prepare with his team for next season.
The Knights will be missing the freshman guard’s scoring ability against longtime rival Mercyhurst Wednesday.
The Lakers hope to sweep the Knights for the first time this year since the ‘11-12 season.
Wednesday night is also Senior Night for Gannon, and the Knights will be honoring Cory Bailey, Tony Boykins, Jon Dogbo, Toupane and team manager Max Seng along with the women’s team seniors during pregame festivities.

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