String of injuries, buzzer-beaters trips up Knights

The Gannon University men’s basketball team has lost six games so far this season, and all six have been by less than six points.

The Knights have dropped games by margins of one, two, four, three, four and six.

Gannon currently sits at 8-6 overall and 6-4 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

In the championship game of the Porreco Cup against Seton Hill University on Dec. 30, the Knights bore the brunt of an eventual No. 2 play on ESPN’s SportsCenter top 10 when the Griffons drained a half-court heave at the buzzer in double-overtime.

Now, the injuries are beginning to take their toll.

Sophomore forward Stephen Battle is out indefinitely with a lower leg-knee injury. Senior guard Steve Piotrowicz is out indefinitely after hitting his head during practice, and transfer forward Dytanya “Bubby” Johnson will be designated a medical redshirt after a broken foot ended what was expected to be an exciting freshman campaign.

Despite injury, Reilly remains confident that he has a group of guys that will be able to step up in the absence of named key players.

“It’s a good group of guys and nobody’s feeling sorry for you,” Reilly said. “So you just have to make your own breaks.”

This is a sentiment that he has apparently instilled throughout his team, as Darrell Blanton, a redshirt-junior forward, reiterated his coach’s thoughts on injury.

“The players that are out would absolutely help us out but we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves,” Blanton said. “We still need to go out and give it our all every game”

The focus of the Knights for the rest of their season is the same as it’s been all year according to junior guard Oscar Macias.

“Our outlook is to make the PSAC tournament, win the PSAC tournament, make the NCAA tournament and begin our run,” Macias said.

And next in line for the Knights is cross-town rival, Mercyhurst College, which enters the contest with a 9-5 overall record and a 7-3 mark in the PSAC.

A walk around the Gannon campus would result in a sense of excitement amid the rumblings of “the Mercyhurst game.”

However, for the Gannon players, it’s just another must-win game.

Blanton said that he considers every game a must win, and that this is no doubt a big rivalry game which will be exciting to play in. In the same breath, however, he clarified that “there really is no unique way to prepare for Mercyhurst.”

Macias also stressed that he views each game as having equal importance.

“I prepare the same way for every game, but I don’t like to put a lot of pressure on myself,” Macias said. “I just compete every second on the court and make sure I‘m having fun while doing it.”

ALEX WOMER

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