Men’s basketball falls in first round of tournament


While most of the student body was on a beach somewhere enjoying spring break, the Gannon University men’s basketball squad was busy preparing for the annual Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament.
With two games left in the regular season to finish up along with a berth in the single-elimination tournament, the team had no time to relax like the rest of us.
The Knights came away with two straight wins to close out the regular season before dropping their first-round PSAC Tournament matchup to Pitt-Johnstown, 70-60, on March 4, bringing the season to a close.
Gannon dominated Clarion, 64-36, on Feb. 27 and then beat Slippery Rock, 73-55, on March 2 to head into the playoffs on a high note.
However, the momentum from that small win streak would not be enough to topple fourth seed Pitt-Johnstown.
Gannon, seeded fifth, jumped out to a small lead on a few easy buckets from Matt Johnson and Kofi Mills.
But UPJ, one of the nation’s best teams in terms of shooting, heated up tremendously, and a 13-0 run was all the Mountain Cats needed to take the wind out of Gannon’s sails.
UPJ built a 43-21 lead at halftime, but the Knights did not go quietly as they pulled to within 10 with less than a minute to play.
Daryl Porter led Gannon in scoring with 15 points in his final game with the team, finishing the season with six straight games of scoring in double digits.
Jonathan Harewood contributed 10 points.
The final two regular-season games were a different story, and in particular the Clarion matchup showed just how deadly the Knights could be when all aspects of their offense were clicking.
Gannon outperformed Clarion’s Golden Eagles in every major statistical category, including field-goal percentage, 46 percent to 28 percent; rebounds, 36-30; and steals, 14-4. The Knights also forced Clarion into 27 turnovers while committing just 13.
Additionally, four Gannon players scored north of 10 points, marking the first time that many players dropped double-digits in scoring all season.
This game was decided very early in the first half.
Five minutes into the game with the score tied, Gannon caught fire from deep.
Three straight triples — one each from Johnson, Porter and Victor Olawoye — in conjunction with 8-of-9 shooting over this stretch gave the Knights a 16-point lead, a deficit the Eagles could never overcome.
Gannon continued its outstanding play against Slippery Rock. Porter was on fire, notching the first double-double of his NCAA career.
Porter not only led his team in points with 24, he also led the squad in rebounds with 13, a personal best.
Johnson also contributed 16 points in the win and Olawoye added 11.
This game was a little closer in terms of score; however, Gannon held the momentum from beginning to end.
The game’s key sequence occured in the beginning of the second half when Olawoye hit a 3-pointer out of an inbounds play, followed by a Porter three on the next possession.
This forced SRU to take a time out, but right away Olawoye added another three from deep, pushing the score to 46-31. Gannon led by at least 10 for the rest of the game and cruised to the win. The Knights finished their season with an overall record of 11-18 and a 9-12 mark in PSAC West play.
Porter finished as Gannon’s leading scorer on the season, as he averaged 12.4 points per game. Olawoye finished with a 10.4 point-per-game average.
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