Gannon stays perfect against Bald Eagles

As the close losses continue to mount for the Gannon University men’s basketball team, the Knights may be reduced to the role of spoiler when they travel to Mercyhurst College Wednesday.

Deadria Clarke
(Deadria Clarke) Senior guard Danard Crouch (20) drives to the hoop in the Knights' 64-63 win over Central State University. Crouch recorded 11 points in Gannon's 20-point victory against Lock Haven University.

The Knights managed a 1-1 record over the past week, as they were again on the losing end of a barn-burner in their loss to Edinboro University before pasting Lock Haven University on the road

The near misses the Knights have endured may be enough to discourage most squads, but coach John T. Reilly said the season has given him and the Knights a lot to take from it thus far.

“I never go into a season with any pre-determined expectations,” Reilly said. “I know I’ve learned a lot this season and the kids have too.”

Gannon was yet again the victim of a demoralizing defeat when it hosted Edinboro Wednesday. After the Knights led for the vast majority of the game, the Fighting Scots left the Hammermill Center with the victory when Danny Walsh sunk a baseline jump shot with 1.8 seconds left.

The Knights benefited from solid offensive productivity from freshman Stephen Battle, who totaled 19 points and nine rebounds. Redshirt freshman Kelvin Agee and senior Travis Brannen also made sizeable contributions, adding 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Gannon held a 66-60 lead with a little more than a minute to go, when missed free throws and turnovers gave the Scots new life. Edinboro ripped off a 7-0 run in just 35 seconds to take a one-point lead. Stephen Battle converted a jumper to give the Knights the lead before last-second heart-break set in again for the Knights.

Reilly said the experience his team gains in the close games is an important lesson to learn.

“Good players should learn from both wins and losses,” Reilly said “We’ve had a few close games but time will tell if we learn from it.”

Gannon attempted to right the ship with an 88-68 win at Lock Haven Saturday. The Knights saw four players finish in double figures, as Battle led the way with 19 points.

Despite the lopsided score, the Knights struggled to find their stroke in the primitive stages of the game before assuming control of the contest. Gannon used a 16-2 run midway through the first half to take a double-digit lead, which it would not relinquish.

Several players had bounce-back games for Gannon, led by Danard Crouch, who came off the bench to contribute 11 points after going scoreless in the loss to Edinboro. Sophomore Tanner Furno chipped in with a season-high 17 points, while junior Steve Piotrowicz recorded his second-highest scoring output of the season with 15.

Gannon will get a crack against its crosstown rival Mercyhurst when it treks several miles due east Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be part of Mercyhurst’s Pink Zone, as ticket proceeds will benefit cancer research.

The Lakers bested the Knights 68-64 in overtime Jan. 26 at the Hammermill Center. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Lakers overtook the Knights after trailing for almost the entire game. Mercyhurst held the Gannon offense scoreless for the final 3 minutes, 26 seconds of regulation.

Piotrowicz said he has confidence the Knights can shake off the ghosts of the previous meeting.

“I kind of feel like we let one get away the last time,” said Piotrowicz, who had eight points in the first meeting. “We know we can beat them but it’s just a matter of executing when it counts.”

Should Gannon be able to pull off the David-esque act, the Knights would hand Mercyhurst its first conference loss of the season and end its 11-game winning streak.

Reilly said the game means the Knights have a shot to avenge the tough loss a month ago.

“They’re a very good team and we definitely had our chances,” he said. “This should be a tough, physical game and it’s another opportunity for us.”

JOE CUNEO

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