Men’s basketball suffers disappointing defeat against Slippery Rock

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The Gannon University men’s basketball team broke even last week, beating Clarion on Feb. 19, 71-51, before losing to Slippery Rock on Senior Night Saturday at the Hammermill Center, 78-68.
The split left the Knights 13-12 overall and 12-9 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play going into the final regular-season game of the season at 3 p.m. Saturday at California University of Pennsylvania.
In the loss to Slippery Rock, the game was close in the early minutes, as Gannon remained within a single possession before Slippery Rock used a 17-4 first-half run to build a 39-24 edge.
Gannon pushed back with an 8-3 run of its own to pull within 10 at the half, 42-32. Senior DeAnte Cisero paced the Knights with 13 points and five rebounds.
The teams traded points to open the second frame until Gannon’s Kevin Dodds was able to knock down a jumper in traffic to make it 51-39. The Knights’ offense then came alive with a 9-2 run, cutting The Rock’s edge to 53-48 after senior Matt Johnson netted a layup.
The Knights continued to ride momentum as Johnson found Cisero in transition for a dunk and Gannon remained within striking distance, trailing 58-52 midway through the second half.
Following a Johnson jumper, Donovan Walker answered for The Rock with back-to-back triples to push the lead back to double figures, 64-54.
Gannon made one final push to pull within eight, 74-66. However, Slippery Rock went on to close out the remaining time to steal the win.
Johnson and Cisero were the seniors honored at Saturday’s game.
Johnson started his college basketball career at Triton College before coming to Gannon.
In his first year with Gannon he made 24 starts and earned PSAC Scholar-Athlete honors.
He followed that year with a team-first mindset having a team-best 84 assists. He also generated a team-high 28 steals and reached double digits in scoring eight teams.
Cisero started his career elsewhere as well at South Suburban Community College before coming to Gannon his junior year.
During his first year as a Knight, Cisero grabbed a team high 128 rebounds while averaging seven points a game. Cisero was also able to post double-digit points nine times while recording two double doubles.
In the Feb. 19 win over Clarion, Gannon used a huge first half to take control, outscoring the Golden Eagles 39-20. The outcome was never in doubt in the second half.
The Knights shot a blistering 59% from the floor, hitting 16 of 27 in the first 20 minutes while Clarion shot just 32%.
Johnson and Cisero led the way offensively, with Johnson scoring 16 points and Cisero contributing 15. A total of 11 players scored at least one point in the win for Gannon.
Following Saturday’s regular-season finale at Cal U, the Knights will open play Monday on the road in the PSAC Tournament against an opponent to be determined.

NICHOLAS POUCH
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