The Gannon University men’s basketball is only four games into its season, but has already managed both a winning and losing streak.
After vanquishing the competition in the 27th annual Gary Miller Classic, the Knights first road trip of the year resulted in two losses, including a 78-74 defeat to Central State University Tuesday.
Gannon was able to fight back from a 17-point deficit before eventually falling as the Marauders held the Knights scoreless in the game’s last minute.
Redshirt freshman Kelvin Agee led the Gannon attack with 15 points in addition to four rebounds, three assists and one block.
Agee was one of five Knights to score in double digits and one of seven players who tallied more than 10 minutes of playing time.
Prior to Gannon’s loss at Central State, it started off the road trip with a 79-70 loss at the hands of Urbana University Saturday.
It was a matchup of Dickensian proportion, and the Knights again failed to seal the deal after coming back from 17 points down in the non-conference gala.
In a game that brought with it great expectations, it was a tale of two halves for the Knights, who lost to Urbana for the third straight meeting.
Gannon could not overcome a halftime deficit despite an ardent second-half rally. The Knights tied the game on four different occasions but could not grab the lead.
“We really hurt ourselves in the first half when we weren’t making shots or rebounding,” coach John Reilly said. “We really had some chances in the second half, but we couldn’t take advantage of them.”
With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Urbana, seemingly, took control of the game with a 20-4 run to seize a 41-24 lead at halftime.
The Knights shot just 36.7 percent from the field in the first half while recording 10 turnovers, seven of which came during Urbana’s sustained run.
Although Gannon played itself back into the game, Reilly said attaining consistency throughout the contest is paramount to the young team’s success.
“We had four really solid halves to begin the season with,” he said. “But when you’re relying on young players, they can go in a slump, which is why we stress defense and rebounding as something to fall back on.”
Out of the locker room at the half, Gannon immediately put a charge into its offense when senior Kareem Brown ignited a 19-5 blitz by netting three of his team-high- 21 to help draw his squad within three.
The Knights would eventually claw their way back for a share of the lead, when forward Tanner Furno’s layup knotted it up at 62.
However, following a time out, Urbana’s Ramel Mitchell buried a pair of clutch 3-point baskets, while sandwiching another from Robert Wilson on successive possessions to hand Gannon its first loss of the season for the second consecutive year.
Wilson paced Urbana with 21 points, while three other players contributed with double-figure point totals as the Blue Knights improved to 2-7.
Brown and Agee combined for 28 points in the final 20 minutes to lead a Gannon attack that nearly doubled its offensive input in the second half.
“I wouldn’t say that we played differently in the second half,” said junior guard Malcolm Woodbury. “I think consistency and continuity will come in time; we’ve got a real close group here, and we’re working together.”
Woodbury was part of a bench that was outscored by Urbana’s reserves 25-10 after being thinned out by Steve Piotrowicz’s absence from the starting lineup.
Senior Danard Crouch took the place of Piotrowicz at the point guard spot after the junior was battling flu-like symptoms, said Reilly.
Agee, a freshman guard, registered the first double-double of his young career, scoring 15 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Furno added to the cause with 12 points as the Golden Knights dropped to 2-1.
For the game, Gannon managed to get to the free throw line only three times and converted on one.
This was in stark contrast to the Knights’ first two games, during which they recorded 26 and 17 foul shots against Cedarville and Northern Michigan, respectively.
The Golden Knights will try to regain their aggressive style of play when they rematch Urbana at the Hammermill Center Dec.18.
The Knights will then take a short Christmas hiatus before returning back to the Hammermill Center for the Dec. 29-30 Porreco Cup.
After being bounced from the ranks of the unbeaten, Woodbury said the team’s unity will be a driving force throughout the season.
“When you get good people with positive attitudes, good things will happen,” he said. “We’re all working toward a common goal.”