Men split, to visit ‘Hurst

If late Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss is to remembered for bringing “showtime” to the NBA, the same can be said for Darrell Blanton and the Hammermill Center.

The high-flying Blanton is responsible for a large part of Gannon University’s highlight reel and was at it again when he served up a facial early in the second half against Edinboro Wednesday.

But unfortunately for Gannon, the Knights couldn’t get it fall with such ease in the second half, when they went cold for a stretch that allowed the Scots to win 67-64.

“I feel like everyone is playing their best basketball right now,” said Blanton, who led Gannon in both games last week with 21 and17 points. “Each game is important because we are deciding our own destiny.”

The Knights, tabbed 24th in this week’s national rankings, got back on the winning track Saturday against Clarion University, beating the Golden Eagles 67-48.

Coach John Reilly said Gannon has responded well to losses this season.

“I’m hoping we can learn something from the Edinboro game, which I know we have and transfer that over to another game,” he said. “I really think that one of the big reasons we won at IUP was how we lost at Slippery Rock.”

Gannon (20-5 overall, 14-5 PSAC West) also moved to within one game of Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the PSAC West when Mercyhurst downed the Crimson Hawks Saturday. The Knights are tied with Slippery Rock for second place in the division, the final spot that would receive a first-round bye and quarterfinal home game in the PSAC tournament.

But Reilly downplayed the importance of the tournament’s location.

“No matter where the tournament is, no matter where we play, I think we have a chance to win,” he said. “That’s my confidence in this team.”

That includes Wednesday at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center, where Gannon has lost two of their last three games against the Lakers, who defended their home court against mighty IUP Saturday for the third straight year.

Gannon beat Mercyhurst 56-42 in their previous meeting at the Hammermill Center on Jan. 23, when the Lakers were in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They enter Wednesday’s game having won three of their last four.

“I feel like everyone playing now has to be playing their best,” Blanton said. “Every game’s a must win for us.”

After Gannon travels to Mercyhurst on Wednesday, the Knights will continue on their road trip to Lock Haven University Saturday.

“The end is right there, it’s right in front of us,” Reilly said.

 

JOE CUNEO

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