After demolishing Slippery Rock and Clarion universities last week, the Gannon University women’s basketball teams hit its hottest streak of the season.
Unfortunately, nothing cools down a sizzling team quite like the end of the season.
The Knights blew past their final two opponents to pull back to .500 on the season, avoiding the dreaded losing season. Gannon opened up its final week against lowly Slippery Rock Feb. 23, a team Gannon fell to on the road Feb. 2.
The Knights quickly began enacting their revenge early on, opening the game on a 14-2 run. Gannon’s offense dominated the Rock defense, hitting 15-29 shots.
After opening the second half up 44-24, the Knights led by at least 16 for the rest of the game, cruising to an 84-60 victory due in large part to combination of numerous offensive opportunities and a massive 39-24 rebounding advantage.
The offensive showcase continued Feb. 26 against Clarion. Paced by senior guard Julie Kleber and senior forward Shanna Thompson, the Knights scored early and often, particularly from the 3-point line. Gannon hit 15-27 from downtown, including four a piece for the pair of seniors.
The Knights dominated all facets of the game, with every Knight notching at least two points while amassing 18 steals from turnover-prone Clarion. After the first half was over, Gannon coasted to an easy 93-58 victory to cap off the season.
Thompson led all scorers with a career-high 22 points on 9-11 shooting and Kleber flirted with a triple double, recording 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Kleber said that everything seemed to come together for the final two games of her career.
“I think the team just finally clicked,” Kleber said. “Nobody wants to have a losing season. We were just having fun out there.”
Coach Cleve Wright said he highlights the Knights’ final regular season games as one of his favorite weeks of the season.
“The kids really wanted to finish out strong,” Wright said. “[The team] showed a lot of character to beat the last two teams.”
With the end of the season, Gannon saw the final games of Kleber and Thompson’s collegiate careers. Kleber said that the impact from playing her final game hasn’t completely hit her yet, but that she had some advice for those that will follow in the senior’s footsteps.
“[The experience] is what you put into it,” said Kleber. “It’s bittersweet. At this point in my life, this has been the most unbelievable experience of my life, playing with everybody on these teams. The memories will always be there.”
With the constant roster change in college sports, Wright said that each squad makes its own impact.
“Every team is different,” Wright said. “People will always leave due to graduation or wherever their lives take them, but [each team] is always going to take a life of its own.”
After such dominant performances against Slippery Rock and Clarion, Kleber, Thompson and the rest of the Knights will leave winners.