PSAC winning streak snapped as Knights enter conference play

For the Gannon University women’s basketball team, the new year has ushered in the beginning of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play, as well as the end of a lengthy streak.

(Gannonsports.com) Sophomore guard Kelsey McCoy drives past a defender in Gannon University's 58-44 victory over Lock Haven University Saturday. The Knights held the Bald Eagles to 28.6 percent shooting from the floor during the game as Gannon remained undefeated at home against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference opponents.

After 721 days, the Gannon ended its 24-game PSAC Western Division winning streak after losing to Indiana (Pa.) University on the road 79-61 Jan. 12. The Vulcans were the last team to defeat the Knights back on Jan. 24, 2009.

Gannon kept the game close for the first 11 minutes, with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage up to a 19-18 Vulcan lead. Gannon would be outscored 25-11 over the remainder of the first half to fall behind 44-29.

The Knights would never come within 10 points the rest of the game.

Despite losing by 18, Gannon actually shot a higher percentage from the floor, narrowly edging Indiana (Pa.) .478 to .476. The Vulcans, however, held a sizable advantage in shots attempted, beating the Knights in that category 63-46 thanks to Gannon’s 27 turnovers in the game.

Although the Knights saw one streak end, the team kept another alive after defeating PSAC West foe Lock Haven University 58-44 in the Hammermill Center Saturday.

With the victory, Gannon remained undefeated in the division at home, extending the streak to 15. The Knights have not fallen to a PSAC West opponent in the Hammermill Center since Gannon entered the conference prior to the 2008-09 campaign.

Whereas offense dictated the Indiana (Pa.) game, defense owned the spotlight Saturday. The Knights only managed 23 points in the first half, but held a five-point lead after limiting Lock Haven to 7-27 from the floor in the first 20 minutes.

Gannon slowly pulled away from Lock Haven in the second half as the Knight defense continued to lock down the Bald Eagles offense. Jennifer Papich led the Knights for the third straight game with 12 points, joining three other Gannon players with at least eight points. The freshman forward added 11 boards to complete her second double-double of the season.

The Knights improved to 8-5 on the season, including 3-1 at home and 1-4 on the road. Despite Gannon’s struggles on the road, apart from a spotless 4-0 record at neutral sites, Coach Cleve Wright admitted to looking forward to playing away from the friendly confines of the Hammermill Center.

“Personally, I like away games because if you go and beat [the opponent] on their home team, then you really make a statement,” Wright said. “It’s a different mindset on the road. You have to go in, be strong and have each other’s backs.”

Wright pushed the importance that the team continues to grow as a team, gaining experience as the season goes on while not looking too far ahead.

“They need to focus on practice,” Wright said. “We have the talent, we’re gaining experience. As long as we focus on our game goals, then in the end the wins will be there.”

Gannon has another chance to make a statement on the road as it travels to play Edinboro University Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.