Basketball inks victories, recruits

The Gannon University women’s basketball team romped in a pair of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crossover games before taking a well-deserved Thanksgiving break.

The Knights defeated East Stroudsburg 77-59 Nov. 19, before knocking off Kutztown 90-57 the next day to improve their overall record to 3-0 and PSAC mark to 2-0.

Gannon Coach Cleve Wright said the logistics of the schedule made it possible for a built-in break.

“We just came off of break, which gives us a chance to keep fresh,” he said. “It’s partially by design, because it’s not easy to find many Thanksgiving tournaments.”

The Knights are in the midst of a new schedule—as are the men—in which they will play every PSAC team, and start the year off playing every team from the conference’s Eastern Division.

In the Knights’ conference opener, the Warriors kept the game close on their home court, playing to a 33-28 Gannon lead at the half. However, the Knights’ stingy defense took over, causing 29 turnovers and rolling to double-digit leads for most of the second half.

Gannon was the aggressor throughout the contest, as it held East Stroudsburg to just 38 percent shooting and made 30 trips to the free-throw line, converting 20 of them.

Freshman Brittany Batts led the Knights in scoring for the second time in as many games, as the guard came off the bench to tally 14 points in just 18 minutes.

Wright said the game is beginning to slow down for the Gannon freshmen.

“It’s one thing to be robotic, and to know to be at point A and go to point B, but it’s another thing to know why I need to be at a certain place. That takes time, but we’re starting to show glimmers of that now,” he said.

The Knights carried the momentum into the next day, when they invaded Kutztown and raided its defense.

Playing in front of 98 fans, Gannon scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points, and eventually took a 43-21 advantage into the halftime. The Knights’ lead ballooned to as much as 36 on several occasions in the second half.

Gannon once again enjoyed balanced scoring throughout its lineup, as five players reached double figures. The Knights also held a 49-32 rebounding advantage.

Though the season has encompassed just three games, several freshmen have been leading the way for the Knights, whose roster features seven first-years. Guards Candice Hendricks and Batts lead Gannon in scoring, as they average 13.3 and 13 points per game, respectively.

Gannon also made a splash in recruiting when it signed five high school seniors in the early signing period. Marisa Guyton of Lockport High School (N.Y.), Morgan Neighbors of Westerville South (Ohio), Lanise Sanders of Tayler Allderdice, Southwestern Central’s (N.Y.) Jennie Thies and Amanda Berchtold of Erie’s Mercyhurst Prep comprise Wright’s largest early period signees in his 10-year tenure at Gannon.

“The five we signed are a good mix of size, athleticism and quickness,” Wright said. “We’re excited about them brining in a variety of talents.”

The Knights will have a chance to improve on their fast start when they resume play this weekend, when they travel to Millersville and West Chester universities.

Wright said the experience should prepare the Knights for difficulties down the road.

“This group has a desire to want to improve themselves, but we’re going to need to know how to handle adversity because there will be adversity at some point,” he said.

JOE CUNEO

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