Knights perfect in ‘Mill to start PSAC

Like the rest of the students at Gannon University, the men’s basketball team is in the process of knocking off the rust of winter break and getting ready for the second half of the regular season.

( Freshman forward Stephen Battle has earned back-to-back PSAC Western Division Men's Basketball Freshman of the Week honors.

“We’ve been busy since right after Christmas,” Gannon coach John T. Reilly said. “We’ve been busy and we’re getting back into the swing of things.”
Despite back-to-back 11-day layoffs and an 11-day absence from their home court, the Golden Knights managed a 7-2 record, including a Porreco Cup tournament win, since December 7th.
With the new semester underway, so too is the heart of the Golden Knights’ schedule—Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West play.
“The league is very strong. This year is probably as strong as it has been in a long time,” Reilly said.
Gannon caught the brunt of the conference’s strength immediately when the Knights had to go on the road to take on the league’s defending champion. The Knights fell flat in the second half of their PSAC opener losing Wednesday, eventually losing to Indiana (Pa.) 65-45.
Gannon gave Crimson Hawks all they could handle in the first half, battling Indiana to a four-point halftime deficit. The Knights, however, could not carry the momentum into the second half, as Gannon was unable to net a field goal until the 14:33 mark in the period.
In all, Gannon shot just 31 percent from the field, its lowest performance in over a year. Kareem Brown led the stagnant Knight offense with 11 points, while Kelvin Agee chipped in with 10 points of his own.
In its return to the friendly confines of the Hammermill Center, Gannon notched its first conference win with a 70-43 rout over Lock Haven Saturday.
The Knights, however, received substantial resistance from the Eagles, who, despite coming into the game having lost 21 of their last 23 dating back to last season, sent Gannon into halftime with just a 30-28 lead.
Out of the locker room, the Knights took a page out of Indiana’s playbook by putting the clamps down on defense, not allowing a Lock Haven basket for the first eight-plus minutes of the second half. During this time, the Knights ripped off 15 straight points to send themselves to their first conference win.
Agee and Travis Brannen led Gannon’s balanced attack, each registering 13 points.
Gannon’s offensive success was due, in large part, to the team’s domination down low, as the Knights outscored Lock Haven 26-6 in the paint while collecting 50 total rebounds.
The Knights’ charge on the boards was orchestrated by Brannen and freshman forward Stephen Battle, who each snatched 11 rebounds.
For his efforts, Battle was named the PSAC West freshman of the Week for the second consecutive week. The honor marks the third week in a row and the fourth time this season that a Gannon first-year has received the accolade, the other two belonging to Kelvin Agee.
The youthful exploits have not gone unnoticed for Reilly, who attributes much of the team’s success to the diaper dandies.
“We’ve had wonderful contributions from our younger players this season. Both Stephen Battle and Kelvin Agee have earned starting spots and are improving with each game,” Reilly said. “I think it could be a preview of what is to come for this team.”
As for now, Reilly, who has 99 career wins, said his team is focusing on its upcoming opponents as the Knights make the short trip to Edinboro University Wednesday before hosting California (Pa.) on Saturday.
“We know that in any given time we can beat anyone, but we can also be beaten by anyone, so we’re just taking it one game at a time,” Reilly said.