Gannon to host Atlantic Regional

When the Gannon University women gathered at  the Waldron Campus Center Sunday night, they were wondering where they would play in the NCAA tournament.

Turns out they just had to look down the hallway.

Gannon, ranked seventh nationally, was awarded the Atlantic Region’s No. 1 seed for the second time in four years, giving the Knights the right to host all three rounds at the Hammermill Center.

The Knights had to wait for the announcement Sunday after sustaining their worst defeat of the season, a 74-57 loss the previous night against Bloomsburg University in the PSAC championship game.

“We thought we had a real good chance (to host) since it is based on your entire season and not just the last game,” said Gannon coach Cleve Wright.

The Knights arrived back on campus at about 3 a.m. Sunday after competing in an eventful conference tournament hosted by Bloomsburg.

In Friday’s 63-62 win over Millersville exchanged leads 10 times until Gannon forward Jen Papich stole a pass, got trapped at the other end of the floor and found Nettie Blake, who hoisted in a jumper as time expired.

“As a college athlete or athlete at any level, those are the shots you dream of,” Blake said. “I looked at the rim and said, ‘Here’s everything,’ and it went in.”

Saturday’s conference final was not as kind to the Knights, as host Bloomsburg used a 10-0 run midway through the second half before the Huskies’ home crowd. It broke Gannon’s seven-game winning streak.

“I thought we played really well for 20 or 25 minutes,” said Wright, who was named PSAC West Coach of the year.

On Friday, Gannon will return to its home floor where the Knights won the Atlantic Regional en route to a Final  final four appearance in 2010. Gannon will host Fairmont St. University in the first round, winner of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament at 6 p.m.

That game’s winner will play the winner of Indiana-Bloomsburg at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Student tickets are $16 for the tournament or $4 per game. They will go on sale one hour prior to each session of games.

“This season is already a success,” Wright said. “I look at it in two parts; now we move to the postseason.”

 

JOE CUNEO

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