Knights halt losing skid with home win

Due to its relative youth and inexperience as well as its penchant for leaving its ardent supporters’ hearts in their throats, the Gannon men’s basketball team may be the latest in a long line of squads that have earned the moniker of Kardiac Kids.

Deadra Clarke/Knight
(Deadra Clarke/Knight) Freshman guard Kelvin Agee (12) scores on a finger roll against Central State in the Knights' 64-63 come-from-behind victory Monday. Agee ended the contest with eight points, three assists and two rebounds.

“I think we’re a pretty new team,” said Coach John T. Reilly. “We’re still learning how to play together and we haven’t had and an easy game on our schedule and we won’t, so every one’s going to be a battle.”

The Knights’ flare for the dramatic was most recently on display Monday night, when Gannon erased a 16-point second-half deficit to defeat Central State 64-63 in the season’s final non-conference game at the Hammermill Center.

After Central State (12-9) dominated play for much of the game by maintaining a lead for the first 56 minutes, the Knights clawed their way back and pulled out an improbable win.

Senior Travis Brannen put an exclamation point on the furious rally by swatting away a pair of shots at the buzzer to ensure the victory for the Knights.

The Marauders held a 32-22 advantage at the half before extending the lead to 16 to begin the second half. The Knights had an answer, however, as Gannon tallied six points in a row before ripping off a sustained 15-4 run to take its first lead of the game minutes later.

After redshirt freshman Kelvin Agee’s jump shot gave the Knights a one-point lead in the final minutes, the teams exchanged several defensive stops to  set up the dramatic finish to the game.

Brannen wore the shining armor throughout Monday, collecting a season-high 20 points and grabbing a career-best 14 rebounds.

Not to be outdone, however, Danard Crouch came off the bench to record 15 points to go along with seven rebounds. The senior was a vital part of the Knights’ come-from-behind victory, scoring 13 points in the second half.

For the GU faithful, the win hopefully sets the Knights on the right track after a 73-58 thumping to Indiana (Pa.) Saturday followed another nail-biting defeat, 69-67, at the hands of Slippery Rock on Wednesday.

Crouch said a new mindset was the key to the win and could be a ticket for a lot more.

“We wanted to impose our will like IUP did to us,” he said.

“We definitely have to keep being more aggressive. We’re kind of in the same position Green Bay was in: facing elimination with our backs up against the wall.”

With an 11-9 overall record and 2-6 record in the PSAC West, Gannon is on the outside looking in when it comes to the conference postseason tournament. However, the Knights are still within striking distance of Clarion and Edinboro, which both carry 3-5 conference records.

The playoff overtone renders the Knights’ date with the Scots Wednesday night at the Hammermill Center even more significant.

“We try to take it one game at a time,” Reilly said. “This one against Edinboro is especially important because one, they beat us at their place earlier this season, two, it’s a league game and three, because of the postseason implications.”

The Edinboro game pits a pair of previously scuffling teams coming off big wins at home.

The 11-11 Scots upset California (Pa.) 78-76 at the McComb Fieldhouse Saturday to keep pace in the tightly-packed PSAC West.

After battling Edinboro at home, Gannon will hit the road for three away games before returning to the Hammermill Center to wrap up the regular season.

But for Gannon’s players, they hope there’s another season to follow.

“It’s a must win attitude,” junior Steve Piotrowicz said. “Some things have to go our way but we control our own destiny.”

Crouch echoed his teammate’s sentiments.

“We’re definetly in the mindset that we have to leave it all out there,” he said “We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

JOE CUNEO

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